We’re cleaning houses these days. Parent houses. Not the simple debris that accumulates from day to day. Archives of emotion tied in ribbon and brown paper bags. Boxes of interests that lasted weeks and now linger for decades. Little piles from one generation that were dumped, unsorted, into bags and now come to another generation. No tags, no context, no way to tell whether this is contents of a heart or a junk drawer.

Then one day I turned to my in-box. It needed to be pruned, I thought. There were messages from mailing lists, notifications of posts and comments, conversations with friends, weekly announcements and work interactions. I started deleting some newsletters that I never read. I unsubscribed from more. I cleaned for awhile. And then I decided to see how far I had to go.

68,000. That’s how many messages I had in my gmail account. I was stunned. I know the account goes back to 2006, but that’s still a lot of messages.

I started trimming in earnest. It became a game, then an obsession.

I’m down to 37,000 now. But I can’t simply delete the whole file.

A third are sent messages. Some have attachments of photos and files that exist nowhere else. Some are the remaining traces of relationship with people no longer alive.

Many are sepia tone threads of conversations between people who don’t talk much anymore.

talkMy inbox is a scrapbook and an archive and cloud-based memory box. There’s nothing of any value of blackmail, other than the self-induced kind when we say “I should have done more.”

I understand the productivity value of zeroing out my inbox. But greater is my desire to remember you and be reminded of the ways we’ve explored life and following God and understanding priorities and laughing.

But I’m pruning.

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