Filing Cabinet Finds: Part 1

In my garage stands a filing cabinet that has remained closed for over three years, but a few weeks ago on a sunny, Saturday afternoon, I opened the drawers, one at a time to inspect the contents– to sort the items to keep from those to recycle or donate.

Three years ago every item I shoved into this cabinet carried something sacred that would scream betrayal or spray guilt if I did not keep it. Yet, I’ve learned that when you allow yourself time to process, to heal, to seek God’s guidance and counsel, you discover that items in a filing cabinet won’t mend the shattered soul or honor his memory.

With a quick prayer for focus and rationale thought, I delved into the dusty cabinet drawers that now forever contain my Daddy’s scent and sense. From old work boots and t-shirts, birthday cards, Bible study notes, notebooks and folders and more, I exhumed all of it.

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Consequently, this sunny Saturday afternoon project moved me a few rungs higher on the ladder of healing, and by God’s grace and perfect timing, I found treasures of wisdom and creativity from my Daddy.

 

Part 1 of the treasures and wisdom found in the cabinet consisted of a draft titled “Food for Thought” and a final copy without a title. My Daddy wrote this during his time in prison–a short but transformative period in his life when he earned his GED, learned hard lessons about family, friends, and foes and found Jesus Christ. The first draft of this piece read like a fill-in-the-blank and may have been an exercise he did in “class.” No matter how the sentences and phrases came to life on my Daddy’s notebook paper, the inspirational and chilling words remain filing cabinet items to keep.

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by Gene Drennan circa 1978-1980

the most expensive indulgence:  hate

the greatest trouble maker:  one who takes too much

the cheapest, stupidest and easiest thing to do:  find fault

the greatest stumbling block:  egotism

the most ridiculous asset:  pride

the worst bankrupt:  the soul that has lost its enthusiasm

the cleverest man:  one who always does what he thinks is right

the most dangerous person:  liar

the most disagreeable person:  the complainer

the best teacher:  one who makes you want to learn

the meanest feeling of which any human being is capable:  feeling bad at another’s success

the greatest need:  Common Sense

the greatest puzzle:  Life

the greatest mystery:  Death

the greatest thought:  God

the greatest thing, bar none, in all the world:  Love

the greatest sin:  Fear

the biggest fool:  the boy who will not go to school

the most agreeable companion:  one who would not have you any different from what you are

the best town:  where you succeed

the greatest bore:  one who will not come to the point

a still greater bore:  one who keeps talking after he has made his point

the great deceiver:  one who deceives himself

the greatest invention of the devil:  war

the greatest secret of production:  saving waste

the best work:  what you like

the best play:  work

the greatest comfort:  the knowledge that you have done your work well

the greatest mistake:  giving up

 

 

 

One-hour Delay

It’s a one-hour delay for students

A meeting time for teachers

topic unknown. acronym foreign

THEN

She speaks

in a weighted tone filled with cold examples and questioning statistics

BLIND SIGHTED.

I’m stuck

in this room. surrounded on all sides.

It’s my job so I must stay.

Yet, that hole in my heart widens while my lungs tighten.

the Topic of the Year–speakers, faculty meetings, news stories

the buzz word for a few

a piecing memory for my tattered mind and healing heart

As the clamp on my soul tightens, she says I’m a victim.

I prefer Victor. Child of God. Redeemed.

Breathe.

Don’t make eye contact.

Focus.

Tune her out.

Stay. This is a test.

Role Play she says. Seriously?

No. I will not. I can not.

I did this. I tried that.

He’s still gone.

8 a.m. and the test, the torture concludes

under a cloud of anxiety

Quietly. Quickly. I escape.

to my room where his picture greets me and His Word soothes me

Breathe.

Dear God, help me.

Friends robed in compassion enter

1, 2, 3

They embrace me and grant me my release, my sobs

THEN

it’s time to teach

to pull myself up, wrap myself in His strength and do what He’s called me to do

and so I taught

and when the work day ended, I drove home

exhausted by the incarcerated emotion and surrender

After three years, I still feel the weight and brokenness of his absence

but I choose to exchange it for peace and growth and wisdom

For it is only by His grace,

that my shattered soul shines through the scar tissue of my healing heart