Digging through a “Tell” — a “File Tell” (Part 1?)

What is a “file tell”? Well, I made up this metaphorical term to describe my current packing experience in preparation for our coming move.

If you’ve read my previous post, you know that we are moving. Since my last writing, our current house did go on the market. Wildly, it went on the market on a Friday morning, and after seven showings by Saturday evening, we had three offers. We were urged to accept one, and we did so, but eight days later, the party rescinded their offer. In the mean time, we lost the options of the other two offers. One couple came down with Covid and couldn’t proceed with their offer, and the other party had probably found another house by then. So, we put the property back on the market.

We had lost our momentum, but we did have a number of new showings and received very positive feedback. It took another week to sell. While the offer we accepted was lower than our previous three offers (which hurt), we  do like the new family very much. God provides! We are grateful!

Just as we believe that God is moving us into a new neighborhood for His good reasons, we believe God is moving this family into our current house for good reasons, such as to bless them and others around them. We suspect that we may even end up with a friendship with this young couple and three children.

But, you ask, “What is a ‘file tell’?” Yes, yes. I made up a term, so I better explain.

In archeology the term, “tell” or “tel” refers to a mound of “stratified debris from the accumulated refuse of generations of people who once formed a settlement and dwelt on the same site.” *

When we visited Israel and Egypt, several decades ago, our tour guide took our group to various “tells” and we walked among the ruins. Much can be learned about the past from the discoveries unearthed in ancient sites.

If you are interested, here’s an article describing an archeological dig on tell sites: https://www.timesofisrael.com/as-archaeologists-say-theyve-found-king-davids-city-of-refuge-a-debate-begins/.

And here’s an interesting, short YouTube video about archeological digs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hco0ykb6ycw&t=1s

So, here’s my application of the metaphor. I’ve been sorting through boxes of files that go back to my ancient of days — the beginning of my teaching career (1978), and indeed, even back to my childhood in the 1960s! I’ve unearthed a journal I kept when I was in seventh grade, recording our family trip to “Expo 67” in Montreal, Canada. I’ve uncovered a picture of my 16th birthday sleep-over in 1970 with four close friends (none of whom I’ve kept up with in adulthood). I’ve discovered  graduate school notes and a blue book test. I’ve dug up a research paper on Jean Piaget’s research with his conclusions regarding the stages of childhood development.

Boxes and boxes of files have moved with us over the years and across the country. At this point the “file tell” metaphor breaks down. Archeological tells don’t move north, south, east, or west. People build on top of them, so in a sense, they move down. Thus, from an historical sense, the metaphor does fit. My “file tells” that have crossed the country with us have moved down or back in my memory.

Gratefully, I’ve discovered some documents that I had hoped to find which I haven’t seen in years. Happily, for my husband, I have devoted several boxes full of paper and files for destruction in our backyard “Gehenna,” our fire pit (or the recycle bin)!

The items I have preserved are chards of my history which tease my mind. I am hoping to employ some of the material is future writings. As an archeological term, “tell”/”tel” is Arabic in origin, meaning mound or hill. As evidence of the past, “tells” tell stories. That’s what a “tell” is for — to pun around — to tell stories of the past, and as such, to ground the future in its heritage.

As I approached my “file tell”, I breathed deeply and asked God to give me the courage to sort through my storied debris, to save what’s special and useful, and to toss the rest (as much as possible, as Paul hopes I continue to do). Since we cannot take possession of our new house until early November, because the sellers are building a new home, this is an ideal time to do such “file tell” digging. Not often in life are we given ideal times to do the very things we don’t want to do. No more good excuses. Sigh.

I tried to attempt this sorting process a year ago, and retreated.

An earlier attempt at digging through precious memories. Amanda encouraged me to take pictures and then toss the items. (“A seriously callous daughter,” brooded a sentimental mother.)

Digging up my past and inevitably reliving some of it creates in me a painful sadness when it comes to tossing. Tossing away my life’s debris reminds me of themes from Ecclesiastes: “there is a time for everything…” and “vanity, vanity….”  I’m “numbering my days” (Psalm 90:12). Does such numbering give me a “heart of wisdom”?

Well, there is some old and fascinating wisdom that I unearthed in my “file tells” which I’ll pass on to you. Let’s save these finds for my next post. I may even transform them into a series. Who knows what tales these “tells” may tell?


* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tell_(archaeology)




Categories: Moving | Tags: | 3 Comments

Post navigation

3 thoughts on “Digging through a “Tell” — a “File Tell” (Part 1?)

  1. Rick Shepherd

    Blessings abound, Karen and Paul!….Godspeed! 👏👏🙏🕊🌞😃❤️

  2. Shirley Tamplin

    I, too have been going through files and piles of papers with different categories. It is a mixed emotional task; but, one that has to be done. My Sunday School class is praying for me as I make decisions and wise choices on what to save. I was glad to hear of the update on your house. Please call soon — want to touch base. Happy sorting — S-

    • Karen Thomas Olsen

      How wonderful to have friends praying for you regarding these decisions. How do we decide what to keep, what to toss, or what to take photos of and then toss? I suppose most should go. Most items will mean nothing to others, and it is doubtful that I’ll be able to use much of this material again. I’m coming up with some categories to help guide me. I look forward to talking with you soon, Shirley!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: