Stepping into the Darkness

"You must learn to walk to the edge of the light, and then a few steps into the darkness, then the light will appear and show you the way before you."

Monday, July 28, 2014

I will go where you want me to go, dear Lord...

After my surgery last year, I found I needed a cane for stability as I walked. Year’s ago in Belize, we visited an archeology site and walked among the ancient temples. Surrounding the parking lot were a great number of small 8’ x 8’ shacks where handcrafted  items were for sale. I made the rounds stopping at several of them looking for a cane that I liked and that was tall enough for me. I found one. It had a carved toucan with the beak and head being the handle. It also was carved from a piece of Ziricote, one of my favorite exotic woods. For a year after the surgery, I enjoyed using that cane. Then one day, I tried to use it as a pry bar. That didn't work out so well. It broke in half and I was left to find another. Not a big deal I thought, get on the internet and there should be plenty to choose from. Turns out that isn't exactly true. I did finally find a cane made long enough and strong enough for me. I had a small brass plaque put on the cane that said, “I’ll go where you want me to go dear Lord…”

Each time someone would ask us where we wanted to go on our mission, I would point to that small plaque. That small piece of brass has often come to mind when I’ve been asked to help in one capacity or another. It’s hard to read that reminder and then turn down an opportunity to serve. It has helped keep me pointed in the right direction and has often brought the spirit to teach.

Those who know me, know I love wood. I can't stand to see it covered up with paint, especially highly figured woods. You know the ones, those pieces that are knotty and twisted, and despised by wood cutters. They can’t be split and make life difficult when firewood or nice straight boards are wanted. On the other hand, these remnants of a tough life, of stresses and conquest give us such amazing beauty. I at one time had collected over two hundred kinds of wood, most of it beautifully figured. I have enjoyed over the years, using that wood for pens, lamps, bowls, tables, and other useful items.

After the surgery I knew that I wasn't going to be able to do the wood working I once had. The lathe and saws were too big and heavy, and the big boards and sheets were beyond my abilities now. With some reluctance, I sold all my woodworking tools, and most of the wood I had collected over the years. They went to people I know are getting good use out of them and enjoying them as much as I did, but…

With my love and passion for wood, when the new cane arrived, I was disappointed. It was supposed to be Zebrawood, but it wasn't recognizable as such. It was a nice cane, but not what I really wanted. I now had a dilemma. The answer had always been, make it yourself, and make it from a beautiful, one of a kind, piece of wood. I spent hours looking at that cane and trying to figure out how, without all the big wood working tools, I could accomplish it.

A plan began to take shape. I could do it with hand tools, to cut a board, I had friends with table saws and many offers of help, so I began to acquire the few hand tools I needed and discovered I still had some of my more prized pieces of wood, including two large slabs of walnut burl and several boards of curly maple that was logged from the bottom of the great lakes and was from old growth timber from another century. As I progressed in this endeavor, I kept getting to a point and then I am stuck. I spent more time thinking and planning. It soon became apparent, (to me anyway), with what I wanted to do, and knowing  I didn't want to be constantly bother friends for a few cuts to move me to the next sticking point. I needed some power tools.

Over the next several weeks, to the dismay and amusement of my wife, I assembled a shop in miniature. None of my power tools weigh over 40 pounds. They were small, and could be moved taking minimal space. As the first crude cane shafts began to emerge, I started to work on handles, and yes, the miniature shop continued to expand. Now I began to acquire different woods. I have friends who need canes, there are also the Pioneer homes filled with folks who use canes, and others. Who knows, I might even sell a few. I’m sure on our mission, I will have opportunities to help someone out with a nice handmade custom cane. I need one for the temple, one that is white, or nearly so. I have more than one favorite wood, so I am sure I will need multiple canes. As I identify each cane I will use, I place a small brass tag on it that says, “I'll go where you want me to go, dear Lord…”

As I reflected back at the time I have spent over the past two months, I came to realize two tender mercies. First, the house hasn't sold, but because it hasn't sold, I have had the garage to work in. Second, with a place, to work, and the ability to create, I have stepped back into the shop. I have found I am standing longer, walking more and getting up and down easier. It has been the best physical therapy I could find.

As my wife knows, I can't do anything small. I now have beautiful cane shafts of maple, walnut, Brazilian cherry, Ebony, Bocote, Cocobolo, Rosewood, and Ziricote (enough for about 140 canes), handles of wood, brass, plastic, and buffalo horn, and lengths of brass pipe to fashion collars, and finally rubber tips to finish them off. I am ready to go, where ever it may be. I marvel at the small blessings we receive. I often think things aren't going well, like the house hasn't sold yet, and we still don't have a mission call. The clock is ticking and that retirement date is getting closer every day. I know though, that the Lord is guiding all that happens, for our benefit and to accomplish His work. So, "I'll go where you want me to go, dear Lord."

Monday, July 21, 2014

I'll admit it - I'm afraid of the dark.  I always have been.  I was in college before I slept without a night light and my bedroom door open. I still sleep with our bedroom door open and a night light in the bathroom.  So here we are, standing at the edge of the light waiting to see what direction to go. We don't know where we are going or what we will be doing.  Our house still hasn't sold.  Lot's of unknowns - we are in the dark.   It's hard for me.  I'm a little scared. Where do I turn when I'm afraid?  The scriptures.  There is always light there.  One of the first verses is in Genesis 1:3 - "And God said, let there be light".  Light, Brightness, Discernment, Spiritual, enlighten, Example, God, Jesus Christ, Lamp, Shine, Truth - these are words listed under "light" in the topical guide of my scriptures.  So I go through them, reading about "light".  Psalm 27:1 "The Lord is my light and my salvation ; whom shall I fear?  the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?"  Psalm 119:105 "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path."  Isaiah is full of verses about light - 60:1 "Arise, shine; for thy light is come. . . "  I could spend the day reading about light, but these verses are enough for today.  "Let there be light" - God gave us light, He did not want us to dwell in darkness on this earth, so the sun shines and I am warmed by it.  "The Lord is my light, . . . whom shall I fear?"  He is my light and I don't have a reason to fear.  Do I really believe that?  YES!!  I feel the fear leaving, replaced with comfort, love, and reassurance.  He is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. And now, I know what to do.  "Arise, shine, for thy light is come!"  How grateful I am for light!  I feel it warming my soul, replacing the fear.  Do I know what is ahead, No.  But I am reminded that I am at the edge of the light, one step at a time into that light.  I can do that.  And so can you.