My father christened him "Sir Walter Drake" and he looked magnificient. In fact, he had taken a ribbon at a show sponsored by the Minnesota Ceramic Association. He was my father's favorite piece and he had a place of honor in the display cabinet in our home.
It was a beautiful Saturday morning. I was a teenage girl who was eager to get out into the world that day. The last thing I wanted to do was hang out at home doing extra chores. My father, however, had other plans for me which included vacuuming the living room and dining room before I could go anywhere.
In order to vacuum the area closest to the display cabinet, I had to plug the vacuum into the outlet located right behind it. Hmm... my dad hadn't thought of that when he moved the cabinet there the week before. Sigh...
I eye'd the cabinet loaded with pieces and realized I would have to remove every single piece and put them all back just to do a bit of vacuuming. I was impatient and impulsive. I did not have time for this so I decided to take a shortcut. I figured I just needed to slide the corner of the cabinet toward me a bit and then I could reach behind it and plug in the vacuum cleaner. What works in theory does not always work in practice. I found that out that day when I confidently reached behind the cabinent and managed to knock it over.
I frantically kept the cabinet from crashing to the floor. All the pieces fell and bounced unharmed onto the carpeted floor except for one. This piece managed to fly further than the others and crashed down on the dining room table smashing it to bits. You guessed it. That piece was "Sir Walter Drake".
When the cabinet had started to topple, I let out a scream which caught my father's attention. For a moment both of us looked at the broken pieces on the table. Then before my father could say a word, I let out another blood-curdling scream and fled to my room, sobbing uncontrollably.
What had I done? I knew I was supposed to be careful. I knew that I had not done things the way I should have. I knew the piece meant alot to my father and that it was broken beyond repair. There was nothing I could do to change things. I was careless, I had been angry, I had even been a bit rebellious as I determined to do things my way rather than how I had been told to do things. I was guilty of all of these things and knew I deserved whatever punishment I got.
My dad was not a Christian at that time. While he was never, ever physically abusive, he had a volatile temper which can definitely inflict a great deal of pain. He followed me to my room where he found me curled up in the corner screaming with grief and fear. I never expected what took place next.
He approached me and gently told me to look at him. I couldn't. I buried my head in my arms and cried harder. Then he said my name. Now you have to know that my father never called me by my nickname which anyone who knows me uses even today. My father rarely even called me by my legal name which is on my birth certificate. He called me by the name he had given me before I was even born, a name which was and is reserved for him alone. It has been more than 36 years since I was called by that name but one day I am confident I will hear him say it once again.
I remember the tenderness of his voice when he said my name. Though I didn't want to, I could not help but look at him through my tangled hair and swollen eyes. When I did, though I was guilty and deserved to be punished, I did not see anger in his face. I only saw love.
With another sob I flung myself toward him and found myself caught in his arms. He held me closely for awhile as I sobbed and tried to say how sorry I was and then he gently brushed away my tears. Yes, I had done wrong. Yes, I did deserve to suffer the consequences for my actions. Yes, my father did have the right to administer that punishment but on that day, he didn't. He taught me about love, mercy and grace.
It has been nearly 39 years since that incident took place but I have never forgotten it. If my earthly father who was not even a Christian could show me such tender love, mercy and grace, how much more so does my Heavenly Father do the same?
Photo Credit: James Barker/Freedigitalphotos.net