I have a special box. It’s a little wooden box with two small, shiny handles and a tiny padlock. It’s simple — no fancy engravings, no high-gloss finish, no felt-covered bottom. The edges don’t fit together well, the hinges on the lid have begun to squeak. But it’s my box, and every now and again, I take the small key and unlock the padlock. As I raise the lid, the box releases its special memories, and the memories take me back to another time and another place.
Inside the box are a few knickknacks and a letter. Not much value in the world’s eyes maybe, but a priceless treasure to me. This box was a gift from my dad. One Christmas Dad made boxes for all three of us boys. He wasn’t much of a carpenter. Some of the pieces aren’t cut exactly right, and the joints don’t fit together well. But to me. a master carpenter couldn’t have made anything better. The box’s perfection isn’t in its form, but in the motivation behind the making of it.
The box was made by big, callused hands that knew hard work; by a mind that understood what responsibility means; by a warm heart that loved me. Inside this box is a handwritten letter addressed to me by my dad. The letter will never be published or nominated for a literary award. It is just a simple letter expressing a tenderness that Dad didn’t know how to say very well verbally. It is a note telling me how proud he was of me and that he loved me. In the only way that he knew, he told me that he was glad I was his son.
Dad died a few days after Christmas that year. He didn’t leave much money or a big home. But he did leave me that box. With a simple box and a simple message, he left me his love.As the years have come and gone, the box has taken on even greater value to me as I have come to realize what it really symbolizes. It is a reminder that only the gifts of our hearts hold enduring value.
The smoothly sanded, varnished sides represent the hard work and the perseverance that I ought to strive for. The strength of the wood epitomizes the lasting strength that I need as I struggle through life’s difficulties. The blemishes and the flaws reveal to me that perfection lies not in outward appearances. And like the letter inside, the box shows that warmth and love come from within, from the heart.
Like the box, I have nicks and rough edges, and my joints don’t match up well. But just as a letter of fatherly love fills that box, I know that the perfect love of God fills me, making me a masterpiece.
By Steve Dwinnels