Some mornings when I consider the heavens, the vast reaches of the cosmos, the incomprehensible forces at work in each moment, the numberless stories of each life, the countless ancestors – long forgotten – who preceded me, and the immense untold acts of kindness I have received, I can but humble myself and keep quiet.
Just this morning as I looked out over my yard – noticing the mowing pattern in the grass – I thought back to my Grandpa Follis tending to his own lawnmower.
Though most of my Grandpa Follises story I never knew, this little memory when I was 8 or 9 still makes me smile. So one day when Grandpa Follis and I were bumming around, he tuned-up his lawnmower. Lawnmower parts were laying on a work rag he had spread out on the sidewalk just outside of his garage. As I “helped” him, he put the mower back together. He had sharpened the mower blade, changed the oil and spark plug and wiped down the entire mower. When he finished putting the mower back together, he filled up the fuel tank with gasoline. Pulling the rope to crank the engine, it fired right up.
I was impressed.
Even today when I watch mechanically-inclined people solve problems and fix things, I am easily captivated. How do they see the right angles and know where to cut that board? How do they rewire a light? How do they figure the angles when they rebuild their porch steps? How did that guy so beautifully build a room addition to his home all by himself? Some people can just see how things work. They have a vision and make it happen. Shazam!
One day a friend of mine had his chainsaw taken apart. I was watching him. Suddenly he said, “Ah ha. I see the problem. It’s a faulty design.”
“A faulty design,” I said. “How in the world do you know that?”
“Look right here. It’s obvious. See how that part is supposed to engage, but doesn’t,” he said, pointing with his finger inside the engine. “It’s just a bad design, but I think we can make it work.”
And sure enough, my friend finagled with it for a while, moved a few parts around and finally got it to work to his satisfaction, and to his great delight.
Years after my grandfather died, my uncle told me that grandfather couldn’t read.
“Really?” I asked him, surprised.
“If he could, it wasn’t much.” That surprised me.
But that didn’t stop my grandfather from fixing things. The man could fix things, seeing how to take things apart and how to put them back together. He was smart! That impressed me.
I think of the countless talents in the small sphere of people in my family and friends alone. Golly. It boggles the mind. Most days I simply pray: “This is the day the Lord has made. May God – the Great Mystery beyond any human comprehension – the giver of infinite talents, fill us with love and joy as we work to use our gifts and talents for his service, and thus be satisfied in the pleasures of each day.”