November, 2014: Like a Piece of Craft

Some things just take a lot of killin’.

I’m referring to squirrels first. I’ve been a hired gun at my third job as outdoor handyman; the pesky varmints get into the potted plants on the front porch and, well, plant nuts. They’re cheeky devils, gracefully bounding across your path when they know you’re not armed, and raining loud nut-bombs on your car or path as you go by. I like to remind them when they miss. At least they aren’t as bad here as the ones at public parks, or even worse: the ORU squirrels, who go into every man’s world to get as much food as they can carry off. Don’t let the cuteness fool you – their god is their belly.

So my employers have armed me with an air-rifle and pellets. And my aim seems pretty good. I know I have hit a critter more than once – I’ve seen them jump into the air suddenly with all limbs sticking out – but it takes 3-4 shots to get them to run away, and I’ve yet to see one die. (sigh) My employer told me not to feel bad; apparently, their bodies are so muscular that it takes a really good head shot or a really large, fast shot to the body to take them out. He also told me that one is supposed to have a small-game license to hunt squirrels and rabbits, even on one’s own property. That’s another thing that takes a lot of killing: bad laws.

Another hard-to-kill woodland creature is the opossum, affectionately known as the Large Rat. They aren’t smart enough to leave when attacked, and they aren’t really very fast, either, so they get into altercations more frequently…with cars, mostly. They don’t last long on the road, but when I discover them on my property at night, eating my cat’s food (which the cat does not seem to mind), I’m not armed with a katana blade or my .45; I’m doing good to find a stick handy. (sigh) Sticks just don’t get it done; opossums need something bigger, or they need to run faster, or something.

Guess what else refuses to die? My Grandma’s hope and courage. How do I know? She just got married…for the 4th time. Divorced, widowed, and widowed, for those who are interested. She’s 83, I think; her new husband is 85, and he’s stable physically, financially, and spiritually. For the first time in decades, her husband will take care of her. It will be a change for her, but a good one. All of her descendants (2 children, 7 grandchildren, 20 great-grandchildren) and extended family are joyful and delighted at the new stage in her life. We know she is delighted, too.

The wedding was inspiring, the sermon bold, the reception a taste of heaven, and I don’t just mean the food. The food was delicious, but the company was better. I got to see all my siblings and all my cousins and all my aunts and uncles on my Dad’s side for the first time in years, and I finally learned all the names of my cousins’ children. And most of us are followers of Christ. And we all get along. And we all laugh. A lot. That reception could never have been long enough for me. But heaven will hold no such regrets. And the food will be even better.

One thing that’s doesn’t last long in Oklahoma is the weather. The temperature tries to make us think it’s staying cold for the whole winter, but this is Oklahoma – it was 70 degrees yesterday, Nov 29th. It snowed two weeks ago. We’re not worried about snow drifts here; it always melts off, unlike the Northeast, where hundreds of flights were cancelled the day before Thanksgiving due to bad weather. I think God had a lot of conversations that day. He doesn’t go away easily, either, and we are very thankful.

We’re also very thankful for our new van, given to us by my aunt and uncle…just because they wanted to bless someone. Yay! We got a van for nothing that has fewer miles and a newer production date than our other van. Plus it plays cassettes, baby! I’ve got a collection from the 80’s and 90’s that still haven’t died, and now I get to enjoy them on the way to my three jobs each day. I am very thankful. 

For several nights, I watched a skunk poke around our yard, grateful for the distance between us. Our neighbor watched, too, with his spotlight from his house. We watched the skunk go under his barn. Next night, I heard shots, and the next day, my neighbor informed me he had dispatched the critter, but that it had taken several shots over several days to finish it off. Wow. I didn’t have skunks pegged as tough, but I guess this one was. Then our neighbors offered us several hundred Christmas lights they didn’t need, and we were thankful again…until after we put them up on our deck stairs to the front door, when we smelled a gift from the skunk. Ah, well, at least we can see our way to the door at night instead of stumbling in the dark. Try drawing a spiritual analogy here that includes the bad smell; this should be fun.

My title for this post refers to my wife’s determined attempts to use words other than “crap” when she gets frustrated. “Crab” is hard to remember, so “craft” has become our favorite substitute, as in: “a piece of craft”, or my wife’s preferred expression “Craftola!” My title combines this unique phrase with the inexplicable endurance of little hand-made pieces of…well, craft. These doo-dads made by children who aren’t old enough to use power tools are too meaningful to throw away when you are cleaning, but don’t really have a home or convenient display area, so…they keep getting moved around, sort of like the orange construction barrels in Tulsa – they go from street to street because there’s no room to store them elsewhere, according to my Dad’s theory.

So these pieces of craft endure from season to season, homeless and destitute, in need of a larger house, or a grandparent, or a someone with care to spare…much like broken souls, now that I think of it. Wouldn’t it make a difference to a lost someone to get into a place of beauty, feel the love and wisdom of someone older, and share time with someone who has care to spare? (This is what the Church is for.)

All of us need the care of each other; all of us should set aside some care to spare for someone else. The Son of Man came, not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. He took a lot of killing, and then, after allowing Himself to be killed, He came back to life to be the source of unending life for everyone. Even though our best efforts are just pieces of craft to Him, He doesn’t see us that way. He has unending care to spare, even for you, even for me. He will turn our “craft” into something beautiful to help others find their way to Him…and it will smell a lot better than our lights.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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