On a vacation to the mountains my ladies discovered an activity that remains a favorite today—panning for jewels. The process is simple. Give the vendor some amount of money for a bag of dirt, grab a sifter and belly up to the sluice box. The flowing water washes away the mud and the lucky prospector may find a colorful chunk of something left behind. Increase the cash outlay for a higher-priced bag of dirt and see a proportional increase in the chance of finding a larger gem.
With their tiny fingers our girls could extract minuscule slivers of gemstones as the lovely colors captivated their attention. Some bags yielded nothing of significance save the desire for another bag and another chance. Other bags delivered the euphoria of finding an aspirin-sized stone and hoping it had great value.
Shawn found a large piece of smoky quartz in her sifter. The husband/wife team running the concession had a side business. For a fee they would cut the stone, polish it, and set it atop a silver ring. The lady promised an elegant piece, and if her locked-in-the-case samples were a good indication she had talent in jewelry creation. I read Shawn’s face correctly that such a ring would become a favorite so I commissioned the work.
Shawn loves that ring and the memories it holds.
Sometimes we use sifters or filters to remove the unwanted stuff and trap the good. I have hours of experience running a minnow seine in the creek near my childhood home. Other times filters trap bad stuff and allow the good to pass. Pity the car owner with no awareness of the many filters on his ride or the homeowner who lives blissfully unaware that the furnace filter needs regular attention. Both are moving toward expensive repairs.
We are prone to forget the daily bombardment of mental debris assaulting our minds. Perhaps the deluge of bad news and political rhetoric we swallow add a decidedly negative bent to our thinking. Or the crudeness of the popular sitcom takes residence in our mental space then finds an outlet in our speech. We are affected by what we consume.
I’ve added a garden project to my site, a Compost Sifter. For tender plants yearning to produce strong roots and vibrant blossoms competition in the soil is not a positive factor. During the composting process I remove indigestible matter such as sticks and pine cones, but the end product still holds its share of non-composted material. That’s where the sifter and a little elbow grease come in. The mechanism is not perfect as the photos show, but the filtered compost offers tender plants a better chance at survival.
If we allow trash unfiltered access to our minds we become desensitized to stuff we once categorized as appalling. Perhaps it is time to switch channels, surf to another page, or make a purposeful effort to mix some wholesome ingredients into our thoughts. The difference in attitude and outcome may astound us. The Apostle Paul wrote about the importance of filtering the input to our minds.
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8 NLT
When did we last change our mental filters? Is it time for maintenance?