The End of the Matter

“I have something for you,” said the Master Craftsman weakly as he lifted a withered hand to point. “Over at the desk, in the top drawer.”

The young man rose from his bedside seat and moved to the desk. Opening the drawer, he found what appeared to be official documents inside.

“What are these?” he asked after seeing his name on the paper.

“There is nothing left for me to teach you, my friend. You have built things the likes of which I could only dream. Such art is in you… it needs only the proper tools and materials to be expressed. And it seems there is little time left in me.”

“No master,” exclaimed the youth. “You mustn’t say such things. Your health could turn. The doctor has said…”

“If not today, then very soon. I see a shadow approaching. There is no need to fear it. Death comes to us all in its time. I merely wish to speak honestly of my desires so that you know.”

The younger man shut his mouth and lowered his head sadly.

The Master Craftsman tried to speak several times before faint words finally issued forth.

“The shop where you have learned, and all that is in it is yours,” said the old man slowly. “I have but one request.”

The young man sat back down and took the old, rough hand in his. “Anything, Master.”

The old man laughed feebly. “You agree too quickly. Know what is required before you accept…”

A sputtering cough interrupted him. When he finally settled, the young man said quietly, “Even when I did not understand your charges, I trusted that they were for my good. That trust has never been misplaced. Therefore, I accept this request without knowing what it might be.”

The old man smiled warmly and patted the hand of the younger. “You are now the master craftsman. I ask only that you select an apprentice from the orphanage as I did you. Teach him not only the ways of wood, but how to be a man.”

Through tears of memories, the young man readily agreed. He would be nowhere if it were not for this gentle, wise man lying beside him. Quietly he watched the rise and fall of the old man’s chest, fearful that it would stop at any moment.

Just when he thought sleep had come to his friend, the old man turned his head and a most contented smile rolled across his weathered face.

“I was just thinking about my beloved,” he whispered. “I am happy I will soon see her. It has been too long.”

“I had hoped you would be here to guide me into marriage. The day grows close.”

“Ah yes. I fear I will miss that joyous day. Remember the day you gave her the sun?”

“She was very young then – and very sick. She has grown strong and healthy… and also kind and beautiful.”

The old man looked out with a last twinkle in his eye. “Keep pointing her to the light, my young friend. And do not be surprised when she also rescues you from darkness.”

And then the old master relaxed.

In his grief, the young man spent the next day aimlessly in the shop they had shared. Death always brought an unfortunate duty for the master craftsman of the village. He held a worn chisel in his hand just to feel the old man’s presence as he considered what needed to be done. At some point late in the day, he remembered the old, worm-eaten lumber in the very back of the shop… the walnut from his first days with his friend.

And he instantly knew the purpose for which it had been saved.




I hope you’ve enjoyed the story. If  you want to start at the beginning, click HERE.



The Master Craftsman – Part 3

“Why have we stopped?” asked the apprentice.

“We have a duty to fulfill,” replied the master craftsman. “The family who dwells inside this hut have a sick little girl and I have made her a gift. Please retrieve it from under your seat and accompany me.”

The apprentice did as instructed and followed the old man to the door. A woman whose face was worn with worry welcomed them into the hut where a small girl lay on a sweat-soaked mat. The young man could not take his eyes off of the sick child.

“Is she better?” asked the craftsman in a low tone.

“I am afraid she is not. Her fever is still very high and she seldom wakes to eat.”

Downcast, the old man grunted in a low sympathetic tone. He motioned for his apprentice to hand him the gift. “I have brought her this gift. It is not much, but I hope she is able to enjoy it very soon.”

As he handed it over, the distinctive rattle of coins could be heard. The mother accepted the gift with a gracious bow while a tear rolled over her wrinkled cheek. “Thank you, sir.”

“I pray healing over this house,” said the master craftsman as he guided his apprentice back outside.

They mounted the cart and with a slight prod, the ox pulled them in silence until the boy’s curiosity could restrain him no longer.

“You chose to use the walnut?”

“Yes. I sensed it was right for her and although I used a portion, much remains.”

“May I ask what was inside the box?”

“Of course. It was a hippopotamus I carved for the little girl as I wept and prayed over her.”

“And you gave them money although you have so little?”

“I have all that I need, my friend. These neighbors are in need of food and medicine to care for their daughter and it is our duty to help them.”

“They are kin to you?” asked the boy.

“They are not,” replied the master. “What is kin and what is neighbor? These words are not different, they are the same. The oak tree does not choose the soil in which it is planted nor does it have the luxury to choose the seeds which take root nearby. Yet it must share the rains that nourish and the sun that shines upon it regardless of whether its neighbor is an oak, ash, or maple. So too, we must cooperate with those around us no matter whether they share our name or not. It is our honor and privilege.”

“Yes, master,” said the boy as he pondered this notion.

As the shop came into view and the silent journey reached its end, the apprentice asked hopefully, “Will the little girl recover?”

“I do not know,” replied the master. “These are things outside our control and influence. I can only hope and pray that she does.”

As they unloaded the lumber into the shop, the weight of concern became more of a burden for the boy than the heavy wood. Though he tried to focus on his task, his mind continually fell back on the little girl laying on the mat until he could hold his tongue no longer.

“I wish there was more I could do for the girl,” he cried. “I don’t like feeling so…”

He paused, unable to describe his feeling and wondering if his outburst was welcome.

“How do you feel?” prodded the master gently.

“Helpless,” concluded the boy as the word finally entered him.

“Yes, we are helpless. And I do not like feeling that way, either. There are times when we are called to action and there are times when we can only sit beside and watch things occur. In those times, do not discount the power of hope and prayer. Hope has a way of setting into motion things that we are powerless to influence. And prayer is our way of influencing the one who has the power to move the immovable.”

The apprentice said nothing, but pondered these ideas as he finished his work. Never in his life had he been confronted with sickness such as the little girl’s nor had he experienced the hopeless feelings welling up within him. Though he tried to take his master’s advice, he simply felt a black cloud enveloping him that he could not dismiss. It grew deeper and darker as the day drew to a close.


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