Do our children bear our sins? According to the Old Testament, they do. The sins of the fathers need to be considered;
(Exodus 20:5)–“You shall not worship them or serve them (false idols, graven images, the wrong team); for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me….”
Whilst I might agree with the notion of collective inheritance and responsibility in a broad scientific or sociological sense – for example, in respect of our responsibility for global warming and environmental degradation, I am constantly amazed by the damage done to children. In the main by well meaning parents gifting them a fine hang-up by ‘taking things out of their hands’.
I met an interesting man, called Ben this week and Ezekiel was watching over his shoulder.
Initially he had come to my studio with his wife to commission me to make a plaque in the form of a wooden leaf to be hung in the tree planted to commemorate his parents. A sixth sense in me detected devilment in his wife. My favourite spice as you know.
I suggested he came to my studio one evening and make the piece himself. Not very good business sense as I charge more for commissions than for a tutorial.
Ben said “I’m really not practical, it was my father who was”. This piqued my mind.
“Bollocks!” I said unprofessionally.
My guest looked a little nervous, his wife, Petra, grinned wickedly and encouraged him to take me up on the offer.
So one evening I gave him a nice thick slice of 200 year old Holly to play with.
After a bit of ‘humming and hahing’ he agreed to draw something free-hand on the slab. A nice, spiky holly leaf.
He cut it out competently and safely on my band saw – never having used such a machine, sanded it on the bobbin sander (ditto) and would have been happy to take it to the laser artist I recommended to have an inscription burnt onto it.
I said “Want to have a go at pyrography? Try it out on some scrap plywood”. He did and was brave enough to take his holly leaf and burn the family aphorism on the back. At this point he seemed to relax.
We had drunk several cups of tea by this time and been chatting freely, so he was, by now, open to the idea of finishing the memorial himself. He had a good idea for placing the names and dates on the front around the central rib of the leaf, and happily got on with it. But, after a few minutes he exclaimed:
“Oh no!I have spelled my dad’s name ‘Artur ‘ instead of ‘Arthur’!”
“That is interesting,” I said, “he is looking over your shoulder from the grave even now”.
I was able to correct the error by making a few small cuts using a little palm chisel. The ‘u’ disapeared and the ‘h’ was restored.
“No one, but us, will know” I said.
Well he went on to finish the piece on his own and was happy with his craftsmanship. He also diddled the laser artist out of a commission.
More significantly, he was able to step out from the shadow of a beloved, but larger than life father figure who I suspect was a ‘Let me do that’ kind of guy.
I’m not. One cannot learn without the opportunity to balls it all up. Error and correction maketh the maker in my view. I bet God (if you believe in him) made a few shit universes before he reached perfection. Sacrificing his son in this one was monumentally stupid given that the chap was a decent carpenter. What a waste!
The H that is in Arthur in Holly and in Henry’s gift was restored.
To quote T H White’s ‘The Once and Future King’;
“The bravest people are the ones who don’t mind looking like cowards.”
― T.H. White, The Once and Future King
Holly is the Winter King:
“The holly and the ivy,
When they are both full grown
Of all the trees that are in the wood
The holly bears the crown”
Sing it out! It’s a great carol.
And so, dear reader, the sin of this father, that of pride – stops with me. I atone through recognition and listening to the hurt in others and by trying to be more woodenhenk and less Ezekiel.
Merry Christmas and may Henry’s gift find you too.