Monday, January 16, 2017

An Office Shared

A single chair inadequately tells the story. This room is shared by those who have gone ahead of me. It is filled by reminders of their stories that inspire me. I never spend a day in this space alone, but am constantly reminded of who I am, and what has brought me here.

A large Bible lays sideways on my tallest bookshelf. Its spine is broken and the white pages have turned a brittle brown. Printed over one-hundred years ago, it has thousands of hand-drawn illustrations of the flora and fauna that is presented in the Bible. Carmel Wilson Mathis received it the day he was installed at Poasttown Church of God in Middletown, Ohio, some sixty years ago. He was my Grandfather on my Mother's side.

On the top of the same bookcase rests a pocket-watch. It's been in our family for four generations. My Great-Grandpa Shepherd carried it and it was passed down to my Papaw Harry and then to my father who gave it to me. The crystal is cracked and it carries the dents and scratches of the men who have carried it. I hold it and I remember their stories, their struggles, their tenacity, and their legacy.

A small plush yellow and blue fish sits on top of the short shelf. It reminds me of Vincent, a young boy in Belize who asked me daily for my wrist-watch. I had refused him for days, but he broke me down. I went to him during a worship service, knelt down and handed him my watch and he reached into his pocket and give me the fish for trade. I'll never forget you, Vincent.

Artifacts from Africa that came from my Great-Grandfather Eldon, my cutting knives from Kroger, the license plates from the big white van in Guatemala, and prints from Shackleton's Endeavor are a few of the things that form bits of where I've come from, where I want to go, and who I am today.

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