Largely undisturbed. It wasn’t a nightmare, it was just a painful vision of the ghost town my daddy’s cabinet shop has become. I was in Macon visiting relatives when I had the dream. It was the kind of dream where consciousness rivals the waking. The eyes open and you find yourself in another place. Logic convinces you there was nothing tangible about your latest soul journey but the poignancy of emotion, however, argues for an undeniable and profound experience. That’s real enough.
The tools are just as he left them. The hardware for the cabinets remain in the drawers that only he opened. The spray guns suffer neglect, the saws rest quietly, the planer’s bellowing is denied. No more will these tools be engaged in the formation of cabinets for the likes of Frank Sinatra. No more will the spray shop put finishing touches on wine racks and custom made items for personalities such as Steven Seagal. The master has taken his leave.
This was our first Father’s Day without him. He has been gone only a few weeks now. We, my sisters and I, have entered the exclusive group. Only those already in can identify. Memories roll in as waves of the ocean. They roll 24/7. Some are larger than others. Some farther off. Some quite proximal. We and the ocean are inextricably tied. The waves aren’t depressing. We are glad they persist. They remind us of who we are because they remind us of who he was.
The Apostle Paul had lived two years and three months in the city of Ephesus. This was the second largest city in the world at that time. He had poured his life into building people into the fellowship of Christ. They were grateful for his love for the Lord and love for them. One day Paul informed them that he was to leave. Prophets began to speak and say that if he were to leave, he would be imprisoned in Jerusalem. Paul was insistent. He wanted to share the good news with the Jews in Jerusalem as he did in Ephesus. All of this meant that the Ephesians understood as Paul did that they would not see him again until the hereafter.
Largely undisturbed. Paul wrote a book in the New Testament to the Ephesians. He left but his work among them still continues in our lives today. About 35 years ago we built an addition to the shop. There’s a ramp made of cement leading to the front door. The bottom part has been covered with dirt for at least the past 30 years. My mother took a notion to get all of the dirt off the ramp to the very bottom. Much to her surprise, she found the name “Keith.” I had written it there as the concrete was setting sometime in the ’70s. I grew up helping daddy build cabinets. Through those experiences he shaped my life. The master has taken his leave, but his blood runs through my pen. One day, a ship will come in for you and me to ride on the great ocean. Our memories will roll most profoundly toward those we influence most. One day their ship, too, will come in. Generations come and go with the tides.
“And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. Then they all wept freely, and fell on Paul’s neck and kissed him, sorrowing most of all for the words which he spoke, that they would see his face no more. And they accompanied him to the ship.” (Acts 20:36-38).