Hi, friends. I’m just sitting here on the couch watching NCIS, healing from surgery. Thanks for your prayers. I realized that in the past few weeks, I haven’t posted. So here is a new installment of the Ephie series.
Ephie and the Problem with Glue
They were staring at a piece of parchment, the both of them.
As Ephie walked on towards the place from where her name had been called, she looked on her side of the river, slightly to her left. There she saw two adolescent boys cocking their heads at the paper in their hands. Have you ever seen your dog cock his head to the side when he’s listening to an unfamiliar sound? These two half-men reminded her of that. Ephie peered a little closer, without being too obvious of course, and saw that they had several pieces of wood, smooth and well-hewn, at their feet.
“I’m not exactly sure what he means by this,” said the fair-haired one. He lifted up a smaller piece of wood and tried to balance it on a larger piece beneath. It fell quickly.
“Well, what if we try it this way?” asked the other, who had a darker head of hair and olive-colored skin. He picked up the larger wood piece and combined it steadily with another of fairly the same size. The two stood perfectly still. “There, that’s something, at least.” He was grinning.
Ephie looked at the fair-haired boy, expecting to seem him scowling at his companion’s success. “That’s how my brother would look at me if I won the building contest,” she thought, but to her surprise, he was smiling too!
“Good job, Harik!” the fair-haired boy said as he slapped his companion across the shoulders in a very manly way. Unfortunately, he did not know his own strength and neither did Harik, who did not brace himself adequately for this show of approval. With that firm pat on the back, Harik lost his balance and fell squarely onto the two perfectly balanced pieces of wood. They collapsed with the weight of the young builder. Harik looked back up at his friend and said, “Well, that’s try number two, Henry. Now on to number three. He said we have all day.” The two friends giggled, Harik picked himself up, and they stared again at the directions, happy to start again.
Ephie heard the faint shuffle of footsteps behind her. It was Lashta.
“What have you seen here?” he asked his ward.
“Not much, really,” she shrugged. The look in his eye, however, told her that there was something deeper. “Um, well,” she started, “they have directions for putting together something…”
“A tree house,” supplied Lashta.
“Right, a tree house. But they don’t really understand how to put it together anyhow.” Ephie looked back at Harik and Henry, still trying to make heads and tails of the inscribed parchment, which by now was getting sweaty and grimy as it traded hands many times between the two amateur carpenters.
Ephie sighed. “Think, Ephie—think!” she thought to herself. She looked up at Lashta, she herself having nothing intelligent or wise to say. Ephie had learned by now not to try to explain anything without having a real idea. Lashta wasn’t too fond of what her friends at school called “bee-essing.” Ephie wasn’t sure what “bee-essing” meant exactly, but she did know that this word referred to her ability to make up an explanation for anything on the spot, regardless of how much she actually knew about it. So, she held out her hands open, her palms up, and said, “Lashta, won’t you help me understand?”
“With great pleasure, Ephie!” He laughed a good, deep laugh. Even though he was laughing at her (or was he laughing with her?), she laughed along.
“You see, child, that the two boys have instructions for how to build their tree house. They are working together for a goal—a place to share their friendship. They’re at their father’s work.” (Ephie thought, “They are brothers?”) Lashta threw her a gently reproaching glance at her thought, and then resumed his explanation.
“You see, Ephie, they are trying to figure out the plans together, but they aren’t getting mad along the way.” His thick accent sometimes threw her off, so Ephie had to concentrate on the words Lashta was saying. “They are a team, working together, not one stronger or better than the other. And they learn from each other’s mistakes.”
Ephie crossed her arms and watched the boys building their masterpiece. They were making progress—however slowly—and she found that she was excited for Henry and Harik as they found out which way of building worked and which didn’t. The ways that didn’t work far outweighed the ones that did.
“You see, child, that physics work here the same way it does in your world. The apple falls when it is ripe. The mist rolls over the water with the wind. And gravity is pulling down at those pieces of wood over there. Gravity isn’t their enemy; gravity is their glue. But they aren’t upset that their glue is working when they don’t want it to. They have a desire in their heart which is built upon hope—find out the way to properly apply gravity, build the tree house, invite father to see what we’ve done…no mumbling or complaining between them. They’re done with that now—such childish ways are behind them.”
Ephie, who had let her eyes drift to the apple trees (they were apples this month) and the mist on the river’s top, spun around to see the boys on the ground, eyes streaming with tears—of laughter—as they sat amid the pile of rubble of their “tree house.”
“I see now, Lashta. Neither boy is blaming the other for knocking it down.”
“No, dear one. That’s correct. Because, was either at fault?”
“Well, I don’t know,” Ephie replied defensively. “I wasn’t watching closely.”
“I can tell you, Ephie, that neither was at fault. It’s just that the glue of heaven was working too well for their level of craftsmanship today. The boys may not be able to put this into words, but they are on a journey to be complete. And this journey isn’t what some people think of is the norm in heaven…some think that life is the journey to sinlessness—what they consider to be ‘perfection.’ But in truth, it is a journey to completion. And since neither Henry’s nor Harik’s knowledge of carpentry be complete, neither shall their tree house be complete. But it’s no sin that leaves them shelter-less. It’s just the fact of incompletion. Would you hold that against them?”
“No,” Ephie intimated in her heart, but no word passed her lips as she stared on the two half-men.
“Neither does their father,” Lashta concluded.