Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Reflections On My Pocket Knife

I love carrying a pocket knife. A man’s pocket knife is a wonderful instrument, useful for all sorts of good things from cleaning fingernails to cleaning squirrells. However, it can be a dangerous instrument in the wrong or in-experienced hands. I have two scars from accidental cuts on my body which will be with me throughout my lifetime – both self inflicted. The first caused by lack of understanding, the second caused from carelessness. These scars are mine mainly because I did not realize the danger which I held in my hands.

Dad was so proud to have a son. He wanted me to be his little man. He was determined to teach me all the “manly" things to do. Therefore, when I asked to borrow his pocket knife, he handed it to me with the instruction, “Now son, be careful. It’s sharp!” When I started whittling on the stick I had picked up, I was bracing one end against my chest and drawing the knife towards my body.
“Hold it, Son. That’s the wrong way. Turn the stick over…Always whittle away from your body.” So, holding the stick tightly in my chubby little left hand, so that the long end of the stick was pointed toward my body, I turned it over, and – starting from the part closest to my body – began with a mighty push of the knife towards my fist ...... slashing a deep gash at the base of my thumb.

Following Dad’s teaching, I cannot really remember how long I have carried a pocket knife in my pocket. I remember having several different ones before reaching the age of 10. Knives are used for cleaning finger nails. They are handy for making a tooth pick when out hiking in the fields and woods. They are helpful for opening cardboard boxes, cold drinks, and even potted meat. “Always keep your knife sharp” was Dad’s advice. Naturally they become dull after much use. But Dad always kept his knife sharp, thus he always said, “Be careful, it’s sharp.”

The second scar I gave myself was many years later after I had been in full time ministry for several years. I had been squirrel hunting and had killed three. We were at a minister’s retreat at Fall Creek Falls and one of the men who had hunted with me suggested that we should clean the squirrels before returning to camp. My pocket knife was not sharp because I had been cutting wire with it the previous week and had not re-sharpened the blade. I borrowed Paul Fritts knife and it was razor sharp. Moving from my dull knife to my friends sharp knife, I placed the leg bone of the squirrel across the knife, blade and leg between my thumb and index finger, applied pressure, and cut clean through the bone and meat on the squirrel and deep into my right thumb! I quickly wrapped it in my handkerchief and headed for camp and the first aid station.

Back at the camp we found that not a single person at this camp had so much as a band-aid or piece of gauze. One of the Hurst twins (Can’t remember if it was Arville or Barney) who said, “Here, Brother Fred. Hold it in the sink and let me help you get that bleeding stopped.” I closed my eyes and held it under the water in the kitchen sink. The water stopped – and the man poured a whole box of kitchen salt over my bleeding thumb and wrapped it back in my handkerchief. This slowed the blood some but soon it continued to drip out of the handkerchief, we decided to drive down to Pikeville (about 15 miles away at the bottom of the mountain) and get a doctor to sew it up. The bleeding did not stop until the last of 8 stitches were applied and the thumb was wrapped in gauze and medical tape.

Now I’ve told you all of these things in order to tell you that all of you carry an instrument that is so sharp that it can and does deliver wounds that will last for a life-time. This instrument is the tongue. When used correctly it is a powerful instrument for good. When used incorrectly or perhaps carelessly it can produce permanent scars. Perhaps that is why the Psalmist prayed thusly:

Psalm 141:3
"Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips."


Travelin' On said...

I sure did enjoy this pocket knife story. I had several memories of daddy as I read and remembered that he would say that one should never be without a pocket knife. I think he gave me my first knife when I was about 10 years old. I can still see him sharpening his too! :)
Yes, he did like it sharp and do you remember how he tested to be sure it was sharp?? Yep, he would shave a few hairs on his arm.
This is a good reminder about the sharpness of the tongue and I will try to remember this! Great exhortation.
love ya, DB

fred said...

Thanks DO-Nice for the kind words. You always do nice, don't ya? Love you sis.

L A Brannen said...

I think we all have one of daddy's knives. The one I have is still so sharp that I am very careful with it when I open the blade. I am not as faithful as daddy was to sharpen the blade, but I do like it sharp.
Seems like I remember that at one point of time, some place, it was illegal to carry a pocket knife if the blade was more than 3 inches long. Maybe that was on an airplane. So, What can we do about gossipers? Shouldn't it be illegal to have a tongue that is more than 3 inches long? Hummmmmm, just a thought.