The Cedar Chest

It’s almost the New Year and many folks are considering New Year resolutions. Me too. But today I’m not thinking of just the future. Today I’m taking a stroll back . . . back to recapture moments . . . something like rummaging through an old cedar chest . . . to find snapshots from long ago . . . just waiting there to be held and remembered, still and quiet, in the vapers of time.

In my human journey, I am my past. And I am my future. As I sit and embrace both, I find the sacred beauty of the present moment, spacious enough to hold both, all of me. It’s where I see the many faces of love that have graced my life and where I can pause and hold each one a bit more tenderly. In those moments, I am full, whole and complete. And it touches a sweet longing in me, deep and true. I wrote a poem about it called “Before I Knew.”

Before I Knew

It’s right below the surface

that pool of tears . . .

Not tears of sorrow or joy

But of a sweet longing that runs deep

A longing to recapture you

in that moment long ago . . .

To hold you close again

before I knew

it would be gone


The poignancy of life, those moments that can fully disarm us leaving only the pulse of love for this amazing gift we’ve been given called life, is, in the end, all that really matters. It invites us to live fully into each moment before it is gone. Don’t blink! Touch it. Kiss it. Hold it close. But the good news is, if we’ve missed it, or just want to remember, we can always return to the cedar chest, quietly waiting in a distant chamber of our heart, where each tender moment yearns for our return.

Here are some of the pictures I found in my cedar chest. Maybe you’ll be inspired to revisit yours . . .  

My great grandparents, aka “Big Daddy & Big Mamma,” out front “Down Home.” Strong. Gritty. No nonsense. Kind. Big Daddy used to chew tobacco and spit all the time. I thought it was so gross. Big Mamma was fast moving like the wind. Her feet never seemed to touch the ground. A cook who came in later years told us that, in the afternoon when they’d lay down for a nap, they’d fall asleep holding hands. Do you have memories of your great grandparents?
Down Home – I’m standing on the corner of the porch many years ago. Joe grew up here and Mini cooked here. (See my blogs, “To Joe” and “For Mini”) Do you have memories of a family home you visited as a child?
“Nanny” – my wonderful, sassy, grandmother on her 70th birthday. Nanny was the oldest Down Home. At 16, she crawled out a window in the middle of the night to meet my grandfather down the road to go get married. He’d only come courting a couple times. He was twice her age and even had a car. Big Daddy was NOT happy! I always said I wanted to be like her when I grew old. I hope I come close:) Do you have a sassy relative you admire?
My grandparent’s home where I spent many wonderful summers – the only place I ever thought of as home. Did you have a favorite place growing up?
My dear mom…I sure wish we could sit on that piano bench once again. (See my blog, “The Piano Bench.”) Mom could play a song on the piano, full chords, she’d only heard once. Never had a lesson or learned to read music. I always thought it was so amazing. Is your mom still with you? What are your favorite memories?
Me with my amazing, beautiful daughters when I was a struggling single mom. Do you remember a time that was equally sweet and challenging?
When I married Doug, I became stepmom to two wonderful boys. This is Ross, the oldest. The quality I’d come to really appreciate about Ross over the years was that he could always laugh at himself and could readily admit when he’d messed up. He also worked very hard to provide for his family. He’s no longer with us but greatly missed.
And this is Mitch, the younger. Some of you reading this know him. I have many fond memories of Mitch over the years. One was when we’d just moved to Maine and had bought a big Victorian home. Just after we’d moved in, Doug went to the store. Mitch and I got curious about what might be under the thick carpet in the living room and proceeded to pull it up. Doug came home to a pile of torn carpet and to see the most beautiful, patterned floors we’d ever seen.
The love of my life when he first took me to the wilderness all those years ago. Do you have an old picture of someone who still makes you smile that sweet smile remembering?
Taken about ten years ago…Do you have a favorite picture of you and someone you love?
My granddaughter Greer. We used to have tea parties in her room when she was little. Do you remember sitting in a tiny chair at a small table having tea or just playing? It was the best. She’s in graduate school now.
My dear grandson Sean before he started hating having his picture taken. I’ve always loved his smile. We used to sing and dance to the Wiggles when he was little. He’ll graduate from high school this year. Do you have a loved one who is unique and special?
My granddaughter Luna so alive and vibrant. From early on she could make beautiful things out of scraps one might usually just throw away. One day we were playing in her room, and she picked up a pile of strips of paper and just make them into a beautiful ball to use in a game we were playing. Do you have someone in your life able to see the beauty in the everyday?
My grandson Jack who’s a lover. He had a special relationship with their sanitation truck driver who one day gave him this truck. One day in the fall when we were laying in the leaves in his backyard, and I was talking to him about how wonderful the Spirit of the Wind was blowing down all the leaves. He immediately said, “I love you Spirit of the Wind.”
Luna & Jack just a couple of years ago…Don’t blink!!


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6 responses to “The Cedar Chest

  1. Camilla Sanderson

    Hello Beloved Stephanie,

    Happy New Year from ‘down under’ where it is almost 6am and I’m grateful for having just had the privilege of watching the sun rise on the first day of 2023.

    I’m also grateful for the privilege of this time with my 85-year-old mother, and 49-year-old sister Stasia, who nearly died in a car accident, now 10 years ago.

    It’s truly sweet to see the love and care between my mother and sister, and I can’t tell you how much your teaching of spiritual principles has helped me to be with them. Knowing that like the lotus flower, we all need our ‘muck’ to blossom because of and not in spite of. ✨🌟💖🙏😘😘😘

    • Rev. Dr. Stephanie Rutt

      Dearest Camilla…how wonderful to hear from you from “down under” and thank you for your kind words. You’ve already welcomed in 2023??!! How time and place do boggle my mind!! Anyway, you’re always close to my heart wherever you are or whatever time it is…Happy New Year!!

  2. Ahjan

    I am sitting deeply in a pool with a reflective sigh and a smile on my heart. The present moment is, I guess, wide enough to hold the past and the future as you have so eloquently suggested; both challenge and joy! Thanks for the peek into your cedar chest! Love seeing the photos from Down South.

    • Rev. Dr. Stephanie Rutt

      Thank you dearest Ahjan. You’re one who knows the long history there from way back…and I always so appreciate your reflective heart…Happy New Year!!

  3. Pamela Nowell

    Ohh Stepanie! I love you sooooooo! What a spectacular writing and sharing!
    Love love love

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