I’m pulling down the books from Daddy’s library. He had so many; old, new, and in-between; they each filled in another part of what I knew about my father. In clearing out the estate I have worked many long hours; but it’s been a journey of laughter, tears, surprises, all vital to my healing. In five years I lost my Daddy, Mother, and sister to cancer. It’s been the most heartbreaking time of my life. Thank You, Dear Lord, for showing me through their possessions, keepsakes, cards, and letters, who my parents and my sister were as people, not just my parents, not just my sister.
This past week as I pulled volume after volume from the high shelves, I noticed how lovely old books really are; the yellowed pages, weathered covers, and broken spines tell all. I decided to leave four old books on each shelf, stacked not by the spine, but with the old pages proudly proclaiming their words. The new arrangement pleased me. I was about to load one particular book into the trunk to make yet another trip to the GoodWill. I noticed the illustration etched into the book’s fabric. I could barely make out the figure of a man with one arm raised. My eyes went to the title and gasped when I realized it was my Granddaddy’s book on Blacksmithing. It was then I saw the man’s hand was raised with a hammer, heading for the anvil on the table below. Wowzer, one of my sister’s favorite words; what a find; so glad I decided to take another look; worn, torn, threadbare along the spine, but worthy; not unlike me some days. It was not until I traveled the three-hour drive back home did I discover what lay hidden between the pages. I opened the book to show my husband and read the first bits of information; it told of the vital role the Blacksmith played in the early communities. Here is a list of a few of the necessary items made by the Smithy besides the horseshoe: axle, wagon rivets, bells, bits, ornamental parts of the harness, crowbars, spades, butcher and pocket knives, broadaxe, adz, carpenter’s tools, frying pans, door locks, knives, forks, guns, sabers, spurs, pistols, anchors, chains, weather vanes, tower clocks, iron crosses over graves. I flipped through some more when tucked between two pages I spied a small letter. The envelope was soiled, torn, fragile, the two-cent stamp of George Washington was placed sideways. Both ends of the envelope were open. A quick breath revealed a folded letter. I went back to the address and saw it was to my Granddaddy when he was in Tampa, Florida. The cursive writing was beautiful; I carefully unfolded the short two page letter and sucked in my breath when I realized it was written by my Great-Granddaddy; it was to his “Dear Son.” Dated February fifteenth, nineteen twenty-eight, it was a Father’s advice to Wiley, my Granddaddy. He wrote, “What kind of business are you thinking of going into?” It had never occurred to me to ask my own Daddy or my Granddaddy how they decided what business they were interested in for future employment. My Great-Granddaddy went on to say, “My advice would be to go slow and sure as possible.”
I was amazed how two of my long-gone forefathers were talking to me through the written word. The advice is simple, yet to the point. I hear them telling me, one of their own, to go slow, slow down, be still, be sure; they knew me well, sight unseen. As I write, I realize the wisdom recorded on these old papers written in pencil, letters marked with a strong hand, each word clearly visible. A letter written in the late twenties of the last century instantly spoke of going slow and being sure. Dear Lord, in Your Word You speak of being still and quiet. I sense that “being sure” is what John the Baptist meant by preparing the way for the Lord. In other words, be sure you’re ready to receive Him. Go Slow, be still, be quiet, be sure, in order to be prepared to receive Him, to receive You, Dear Lord.
Thank You, for the many blessings that have come to me through the sometimes difficult task of sorting through the past, preparing for a different future, honoring what was, and learning what truly matters most. Amen
Psalm 46:10 International Children’s Bible
God says, “Be still and know that I am God.
I will be praised in all the nations.
I will be praised throughout the earth.”
Isaiah 40:3 King James Version
The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Proverbs 28:19–20 Whoever works his farmland will have abundant food, but whoever chases fantasies will become very poor. The faithful man will prosper with blessings, but whoever is in a hurry to get rich will not escape punishment.
God of Our Fathers, Whose Almighty Hand
by Daniel C. Roberts 1876
God of our fathers, whose almighty hand
Leads forth in beauty all the starry band
Of shining worlds in splendor through the skies:
Our grateful songs before your throne arise.
Your love divine has led us in the past;
In this free land by you our lot is cast;
Oh, be our ruler, guardian, guide, and stay;
Your Word our law, your paths our chosen way.
From war’s alarms, from deadly pestilence
Make your strong arm our ever sure defense.
Your true religion in our hearts increase;
Your bounteous goodness nourish us in peace.
Refresh your people on their toilsome way;
Lead us from night to never ending day;
Fill all our lives with heaven born love and grace
Until at last we meet before your face.