April 19, 2015
There was always a bit of mystery in Daddy’s garage. Having free range, we kids were in it most every day for one thing or another. It was a normal place with a bit of an edge.
Daddy fought in WWII as a young man. For him, as a parent, that meant more untold stories than told. Directly after the war he spent a few years in the States. But being single and of sound mind and a carpenter he headed to the middle-east. Like much of the world, the area was ramping up since the war had destroyed much of the infrastructure. He ran construction projects ranging from pipelines to housing for the better part of a decade. When he came home he brought carvings, rugs, old (at least old to us kids) films, and intricately made boxes. Time to time daddy might tell a story, but like the war stories, he kept Arabia pretty much to himself. Which made the garage all the more interesting.
We kids always had our own agenda. The garage was our first stop for whatever tools we needed to fix a bike, work on the treehouse, or build another live-trap to haul into the hills. It was in the midst of our stuff that we came across his stuff. Though it didn’t happen often, it was also not unusual to be looking for a drill bit in the drawer of a handmade toolbox and come across medals from the war, or looking for a handsaw and find a carving wrapped in a small Persian rug.
Age didn’t matter when you came across a medal or a carving for the first or umpteenth time. The imagination wandered. Because a story was seldom available, these items from times past and landscapes unknown brought mystery into the moment. The bike or treehouse was forgotten and the mysterious led the imagination to that place of wonderment and questioning. Funny, isn’t it, how the non-story can bring about intricate and surprising stories?
Those were days of electrical hand tools, but nothing like today. An electrical Skil saw weighed a ton and few teenagers could hold it level in one hand. The day of the hand tool was not yet lost. Many a time I traveled with daddy to have someone sharpen the handsaws along with the circular blades. Handsaws and drill braces were something of their own then. Tucked away in old toolboxes under the workbench, their wood handles worn smooth from daily work, that went on week after week, month after month, year after year. Mystery resided as much in the smoothness of saw handles as it did in medals and rugs.
In this day of computers and cell phones, an age when folk seem to believe everything is or can be known with surety, it seems to me that we can use a few more toolboxes under the workbench. A little less knowledge and a few more smoothly worn hammer handles might make life a little more interesting and a lot more mysterious. Though it might not be for all, mystery matters to the richness of life. It brings together the known and unknown, it welcomes the spirit, and in wonders Creator and Creation alike. Maybe it is time for us, our children, and our children’s children to go through the garage or the hallway closet or that stuffed hutch drawer and pull out what has been stored and long forgotten—clothing, pictures, and old films. There just might be mystery awaiting.