Isn’t it interesting how a tool used in the right way can be of great benefit?


I remember, once when I was a boy around nine, I found an old stone barn wall left standing abandoned in a field. It was just a curiosity, but this wall seemed to be waiting for me as a young boy to fill my time. Not having any real tools, on impulse, I decided to use a rock as a hammer and chisel to loosen the stones, breaking them off one at a time, dismantling the remnants of a wall, past its original purpose long ago.


It was a warm lazy summer day as I smacked away, straddling the wall like riding a horse, I had begun to make some headway. Each new stone was a mini triumph, I was a liberator of these stones, each one with its own life, held in subjugation by their surrounding mortar for decades. It was great fun celebrating their release and tossing each one from atop the wall. When some of the stones were removed, surges of cluster flies would stream out from under a newly freed stone, an unexpected but stimulating consequence to a boy of nine years old.


But I digress. As the rock in my hand came down once again, my aim was a bit off and I hit my thumbnail, hard, and actually split it in two. Needless to say, I jumped off the wall and ran around in circles for about ten minutes screaming like a banshee. But no-one heard my cry. I was too far away in the field to be heard, even by the nearby farmer who lived on the next property.


Eventually I came wincing home carrying the weight of my throbbing thumb and wounded pride with me. I told my father what had happened, as he tried to clean and bandage my bleeding thumb. In typical fatherly fashion he said, “Well Son, did you learn a rock’s not a hammer?”


I sheepishly whimpered, “Yes, sir.”


He then said promptly, “Then at least there’s that, huh?” Then he put me in the car and took me to get looked at by the doctor.


There’s a saying, “Live and learn.”


The Lord in His typical Fatherly fashion has added to that saying for me, with the words, “As long as you live… and as long as you learn.”


So, I come to the point. Everything has its proper purpose and when treated in the manner it is intended, most everything can be of benefit.


But how many times have you known someone attempt to use a chisel as a screwdriver, attempting to loosen a screw and they break the fine edge of the chisel, ruining it for its future use. Or, who of us has used a heavy wrench or rock to drive in a nail. These things may do the job in a pinch but not without leaving scratches, dents, or bits of mashed wood which a hammer just won’t make when used the way intended. It’s hard to be careful when the tool you choose to do the job isn’t chosen carefully in the first place. Oh, of course there are exceptions in emergencies and such, but as a rule of practice if you have the time it’s best to choose the right tool.


Now let’s take this idea over to how we manage life, our inner life, our family life or our social life. Recently our family had an across Canada Christmas/New Year video chat meeting, with around 20-25 family members in attendance. Some I had not seen for years, as I am unable to do long distance travel for medical reasons. A thing which has been the subject of much shaded doubt over the years, many believing I had no interest to engage them any longer. Crones Disease is a condition that is perplexing even for many doctors as it affects individuals in such vastly different ways. But one thing which is common is it interferes with extended family functions, especially if they involve travel.


As we have no internet where we live, we received a request to join everyone online at a specific time, on our home cell phone. So we came in to Port Perry to the Newspaper and surprised everyone by attending the family video chat. After a little tweaking we were in the thick of very animated conversations going back and forth all at the same time.


For those who remember him, our son Christopher who used to write for the paper was in attendance with his new wife, our new daughter (in-law) Hannah. They live on Victoria Island B.C. He is now a youth pastor, and she is a Pharmacist, they are doing very well and are Covid free.


Eventually, we all mutually decided to let each household have the mic so they could talk and everyone could get a clear update on how things were with them. Some had been through relationship struggles, some through financial, and others through Covid scares but came through safely. Everyone shared about how their immediate families were doing, how things were now in life and about if they were working and what at. You could see everyone’s genuine reactions, including some tears, at being able to be with loved ones even in this manner. The gaps were filled in and relationships were re-solidified. It was evident this was the proper use for a medium such as this. Not gossip, which is no way to use a heart, but genuine sharing from each of ‘the horses’ mouths’, so to speak. Not to tear down or back bite but to reconnect and build up. The demonstration of reaching out to connect, when there is a way one is able to, can really put aside the idle thoughts that bombard imaginations and try to besmirch relationships in the vacuum and absence of time.


We have already received further requests from some of these “long time no see” family members intending to keep in touch, to do this again. Wow, there is another saying, “Idle hands are the devils’ workshop,” but especially during times like this, the lack of social connection can stimulate idle thoughts, and these may be the planning stages from which the idle hands produce things. So, I can heartily recommend to reach out and make the effort. Even if you are not tech savvy, try to find a way, maybe get someone to show you how to use the video chat thingy, so you can connect with someone you haven’t talked to in a while.


Maybe 2021 can be a year of re-connection and establishing a pattern of genuine relationships again. Even if it’s using a hammer to chisel it out, no, use the right tool, and live and learn from my mistakes. It would be better to use a pen to write a letter and mail it through Canada Post, to a waiting heart. Just be sure you aim it correctly with the right address or you may (har, har) hit your thumb instead of the home of the person you want the letter to get to.
Enjoy a thankful, connected New Year, and God Bless Your Whole Face!