I wrestled with a one hundred – fifty year old door today………….
and won. Of course, the entire match was unfair, really. You see, this big chunk of wood never had a chance to do anything but cooperate with me. That is the way it is with wood and me, it is my job to make wood look perfect, and I strive to fulfill that role as best as I can.
However, if this door had not cooperated, I would have given it every chance to change its mind. I would have struck it with a hammer, ground it down with a sander, taken the sharp edges off with a chisel, and polished it with extra fine sandpaper. If that failed, I would have run it through a planer to take the entire surface off, and change its demeanor completely. I would have threatened it with the table saw, and cajoled it with caresses as I ran my hand across it to see if I could find any more flaws. I would have endeavored for perfection in this rare beauty.
If all of this had failed, if I had tried every conceivable method I knew of to restore, and make this door like new again, there would remain only one thing I could do. I would have to carry the door out to my fire pit, and burn it.
The thought of reaching that end almost makes me want to cry. I love wood, and I love this door. That is why I expend so much care, and energy into restoring it as a piece of perfection. To make a beginning with this door, to pledge to its perfection, and then settle for anything less would be wrong, it would be a lie. If once I have met this door, it refuses to be restored and made perfect, I must destroy it.
But first, with great patience, with painstaking accuracy and awareness to each stroke of the chisel or sander, I will work the perfect plan. The plan must be perfect, if the end is to be as well. I will spare no expense in the restoration of this door, for I love it dearly, and will not think about destruction until all other avenues are exhausted. I will speak to this door, I will listen to it, I will observe it, and I will encourage it. In the end, the door will be perfect, or it will be destroyed, for I cannot stand to have an imperfect piece of wood anywhere near me. It is an insult to my efforts, and a constant reminder of its refusal to yield to my hand.
But why, Tom, would you destroy it just because it wouldn’t yield? The answer to that is many layered, but the foundation is that I cannot abide wood that does not cooperate with me. If I have made every possible attempt to persuade it, change it, finish it, and love it, but it remains warped, then it is unusable to me. It is good for nothing but to be burned up in the fire. A warped piece of wood can be straightened, of course, unless the warpage is beyond repair.
Make no mistake, I will make every effort to repair it, I will treat this piece of wood as I would any other, giving it every chance to cooperate, and live. I would cut around knots, or cut them out all together. If there is a high spot, I will sand it down level. If it is discolored, I will stain it, and seal it. I will wash it, polish it, and protect it, unless the door is too warped. Then, I will destroy it, and move on to the next piece of wood.
As I look at the door I wrestled with today, I ponder how near to destruction it came. I did not get frustrated with it, but I did get angry. There were moments when I had almost decided to throw it into the pile, and burn it, but love kept me from reacting recklessly. After all, when you have put this much time, love, and effort into something, the very last thing you would want to do is destroy it.
But there comes a time when a certain piece of wood will not respond to my hand. Every call to perfection will be either refused, or ignored. For such a piece of wood, only the fire will suffice. It can be no other way. I make wood perfect, and the wood that will not yield, WILL be destroyed.
Alas, there was such a piece of wood just bare weeks ago. It was warped beyond recognition, and crumbling, though it knew it not. So I took my hand to it, and offered to cut it down to a much smaller piece. I would make every offer and effort to save even a small fragment of it, if it would yield to my hand. But, as I cut it, it crumbled to pieces in my grasp, leaving me with not even a sliver to set my hand to. I took what remained of it, and carefully examined it to see if any other part was worthy. There was nothing left to do, however, but burn it. I carried it out to my pit with a very heavy heart, for it once must have been a very beautiful piece of wood. What had happened? Time, circumstances, elements, and attacks from insects had all reduced this piece of wood into an unworkable ruin.
As I watched it burn, a tear slowly fell down my cheek. Standing there, I thought of the lost, and of how inconsolable God must feel that even one is destroyed.