“They picked up the fragments left over—seven baskets full.” (Matthew 15:37)

This line caught my attention as I read Chapter 15 of Matthew’s gospel. I don’t know that I ever thought about this before, but why did they pick up the fragments?

Why didn’t people take home any leftovers? What were Jesus and his disciples going to do with seven baskets of leftover food?

Maybe this line caught me because of Thanksgiving dinner with one of my sisters and her family. We all ate our full and there was a fair amount leftover. As we were getting ready to leave, stacks of plastic containers appeared on the counter. The hosts did not want all the leftover food so the guests were invited to “pick up the fragments.”

Two thoughts came to mind as I pondered this one line from Matthew’s gospel: the first is about picking up the fragments of my life, which is the process I am engaged in now. My life today looks so very little like my life did five years ago or even one year ago. Everything is changed and I am deciding what my new life will look like.

I have a friend who is also picking up the fragments of her life after getting divorced. She recently told me she has started going to concerts, something she enjoyed years ago and has not done for a long time. I wondered what I might pick up again from long ago and weave into my new life.

When Jim was preparing to die and reviewing his life, he was also considering mine. One day he asked me if I thought I would start sewing again once I moved back to Michigan. “I don’t know,” I told him. “I hope you do,” he said. I had not sewed seriously for a number of years, so I found his interest in it curious. Maybe he had some insight that I did not. Maybe I will start sewing again.

Deciding what is worth picking up and carrying forward is a sifting process. I find myself considering and reconsidering everything to see what will fit in my new life and what I will leave behind.

The second thought about the line from Matthew was how abundant the leftovers are. Just like our Thanksgiving dinner, we all ate and there was enough left over for everyone to have another meal or two. The abundance of what is left over is one of those mysteries of life and it reminds me I will always have enough and then some leftover.


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Madeline Bialecki grew up in Detroit and recently returned after living in Philadelphia for twenty-eight years. She began writing about her spiritual journey and faith life after the death of her best friend in 2012. She likes to read, knit, bake and garden. She shares her spiritual journey here.