Wednesday, December 30, 2009

One of God's Workmen

Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. II Timothy 2:15

As I was about to go up the steps to the Oak Street Bible Shop the door opened and Glen backed out with a heavy carton of books, more than his usual supply.

"Can I give you a hand?" I asked.

"No", he said, "I've got this one, but there is another one inside. If you'd bring it out, I'd appreciate it, I've got to go make room in the van."

When I brought out box number two he was rearranging items in the back of his Astro van, a tub of laundry and some wrapped bundles from an art store, which he carefully placed on the back seat.

"Been to the laundromat and the art store", he said. I didn't say anything so he continued, "Since I moved out of our house I don't have any laundry facilities. I have to go to the laundromat now. Jeanie used to do everything for me, but now that she is gone, I have to manage for myself, and I guess I don't manage very well, to be honest."

He saw me looking at the art store packages and explained, "I got some extra large poster boards. I'm learning to make big posters of prophetic subjects. Even Oak Street doesn't have what I need, but they did look for it. I need something I can point to and people can see it several rows back, something real vivid, yet plain too".

He had everything loaded and walked around to the driver's side. I was curious about how he was going to make these large posters, as I had made big photo blowups and asked how he was going to do it.

"Are you artistic?" I asked. He kind of laughed at that, "Oh no, far from it, but I bought something that could help me make what I need. I know what I want, I just can't freehand draw it."

Glen could see my interest and maybe needed to show it to someone and maybe he needed to talk too. "I could show you, if you're interested" he offered, "but weren't you going into the Bible Shop for something?"

I told him the book I had ordered was not in yet and I was just going to talk awhile with Gary and the others. "I'd rather go see how you make the posters if you don't mind." "Well he said, I haven't done much yet, but you're welcome to see what I've done so far".

He drove slowly through the side streets, his eyes going from side to side and checking the mirrors too. When children or animals appeared on the sidwalks, he lifted his foot from the accelerator and poised it over the brake. Soon we arrived at the house where his room was. It was an old wooden house, set back from the street and surrounded by trees. He pulled his van into the gravel driveway and parked near a wooden stairway leading to an upstairs room.

"Let's take the outside steps", he said, "My landlady is real nice, but if I go through the house she wants to talk and I got things to do".

We carried the boxes up the stairs and he put his down to get his key out and open the door. We stepped into the large room and he turned on a ceiling light, then walked to a pole light and snapped on a soft fluorescent bulb over a 4'x 4' sheet of plywood on a table.

"Just set that box anywhere" he said. He pulled a wooden chair over for me to sit on. "You just take it easy while I go down and get that art stuff". When the door closed behind him I looked around the room. There was a small bed with a wool blanket and one pillow. Beside the bed was a pair of the simple black shoes he always wore.

"Navy shoes" he called them. There was a surplus ammo box open with shoe rags and a tin of Kiwi polish. He had the laces out of the shoes which were clean and shiny, ready to be laced up. His room was simple and old fashioned. It had big high windows with white curtains. There were gas lights on swing arms still in place, with pink glass shades. This place really is old, I thought, built before electric lights were used. There was a fireplace with a decorative tin cover over the opening. It had a mantle with a picture of a young woman in a wedding dress. I figured this was his Jeanie. Then I heard his feet on the steps. I got up and opened the door for him. He was loaded down with his art packages plus a bunch of purple flowers.

"She heard us coming in, and came out to give me these" he said nodding his head at the iris. "She knew that Jeanie loved the old fashioned iris, the purple ones and the little yellow two toned ones, but they bloomed early and are all gone by now".

He set the packages down and put the iris into a dark blue vase on a marble topped table by a window. He stepped out into the hall and I heard the water run as he filled the vase with water from a sink in the bathroom.

"They always remind me of Jeanie", he said, "As if I need any reminders".Then he opened the first package, tearing off the brown paper and placing one of the big posters on the plywood sheet and the others against a wall. The device in the second package had me curious. It was a series of metal strips with numbers on them and pivoted so they formed X es, kind of like those folding baby gates.

"I told the clerk at the art store what I wanted to do, and he said what I needed was a pantograph." He was reading the instructions. "It says you can enlarge up to eight times according to how you set it up." He read the instructions some more, then walked to the table and taped a picture to the plywood with some pieces of masking tape. He laid the pantograph on
the board. It had a flange with a screw hole in it for attaching it and holding it steady. He reached under his bed and slid out a small tool box. He pulled out a screw starter and a nut driver plus a box of screws.

"All I got is sheet metal screws, but I guess one will do ok." He attached the pantograph and put a soft pencil lead into its holder. "If I do this right I can trace the stylus over the original and the
lead will draw a bigger picture of it. Then I can use poster colors to represent the different metals and the clay", he said. He turned his chair towards me. "I'll do it later, I'm afraid of messing
up these big posters. I can practice on that brown wrapping paper they gave me. Anyway, that's my plan. I got to get this across to these people".

He gestured toward boxes on the floor. Each box had books and 3 hole punched lesson sheets in them, in see through folders. One box was marked "high rise" another "rest home". He had one marked "YMCA". He saw me looking at it.

"You know they were formed under a Christian charter. Someone said we could have a class there and they were right. They treated us real nice, had a blackboard and an easel, plenty of chairs". I teach any place they let me. It would really help if I could make posters like this". He got up and handed me a copy of the great image of Daniel chapter two. "This is so important, so basic", he said with fervor. "If people only knew that the Bible lays out the future so plain, that if you understood it, you couldn't go wrong." He waved at the boxes of books. "It's all in there, but it really helps if you look at it together. Some people don't get it from a book, not right away. I
know I didn't".

He saw I was interested and I was agreeing with him every step of the way. I had said the same thing a number of times."But" he said, lowering his voice. "People don't know a damned thing, if
you'll pardon my French. You go into a church and everybody smiles at you. They know nothing about you at all. Why all the damned smiles? Maybe I don't feel like smiling, maybe I'm walking around with a knife in my heart, they don't know. And you know why? They don't care, that's
why. They don't have the time to get to know you, that's why. Hell, if you get a new dog or cat or a horse, you got to take the time with them so you know their temperment. Later on, if you treat 'em right they may start liking you. But it takes time! Man, animals are smarter than people in a lot of ways, they've got more sense, and more dignity."

"But that's all personality stuff. It's more than that, it's content,... content. People don't know anything any more. You go to a Bible study, or I guess I should say Sunday School class and it's once over lightly about some material the teacher studied the night before. I don't know how many times I've sat outside a church office waiting to talk to somebody and listened to preachers on the phone laughing it up, haw hawing about this and that. And church people get together and drink coffee and talk about sports and cars and jobs, such shallow stuff! I hope you take this right, but you can have a better talk in a bar sometimes and I don't drink any more or go to bars."

Glen held up a volume from one of the cartons. It was Daniel and the Latter Days. "This is so important", he said with great earnestness. "This is what we need to understand. If we did we wouldn't be involved in so many foolish enterprises. It's heavy stuff. Daniel collapsed when he saw the future for his people, Israel. But angels comforted him. They called him 'Greatly beloved'."

"But it takes years to get what's in here" he said looking at the book. “Daniel chapter two is one of the great prophecies of the whole Bible, get that and it's hard for anyone to deceive you. But you can't sit around with your friends gabbing and learn anything. You have to spend time alone and prepare your mind. If you do that you will never see the world the same way. It changes you after you understand Daniel and the other prophetic books."

From below we heard a TV set being turned up and then off. "That's my landlady", said Glen. "That's her signal that it's supper time. She listens to the evening news while she fixes supper and that's how she signals me to come down."

How you gonna get home? he asked. "Oh, I can walk to where I parked my car, it's not far". I hope your posters come out ok. And I hope people get the message that is in them".

I turned towards the door for the outside steps and Glen turned off the light over his poster table. He gave me a little smile as he walked out of his room to go to supper.

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