Stashed under the bed for several years, the large octagon board with seven curved sectional pieces, and a bundle of eight straight short boards, was pulled into the light of day for repair. Inherited from my dear husband’s grandfather, the board holds stories of being carried from family to family through his grandfather’s beloved uncle’s yearly visits. An agricultural farm worker, who lived in a huge hollowed out tree in the summer, this uncle hopscotched to various family homes in the winter, staying weeks at a time. On his back he packed the thirty-inch octagonal handmade wooden game that had immigrated with family from Canada to the United States around 1866.
Envision a beloved older uncle, shades of Pere Noel (complete with hat and beard, I would think), stomping his snow-covered boots on the porch, crokinole board and pack strapped to his back. Relatives would welcome him in with glad refrain as he brought fun and entertainment to their far apart homes. Playable by any age, the only requirements were a sharp eye and steady shootin’ finger, to send checker-like pieces across the smooth board into various zones, and to shoot away other’s pieces. Hilarity would take over for awhile, deflecting attention from the hard work and things of life, precious time to visit and play.
Repairing an antique such as this, parts loose that had been glued and screwed together several times, broken pieces grafted in over the years, has been an interesting challenge for dear husband. Some of the pieces that are to fit puzzle-like atop the octagonal back board, have understandably warped in the last hundred-fifty-plus years, shrunk some, and bear the marks of previous repairs. How to make smooth and snuggly-fitted an old, aged, warped thing, still beautiful in a rough sort of way? How to fit together rigid pieces, set in their ways, that want not to yield to rejoining? How to restore the original maker’s design when many others’ attempts have seemingly failed, or altered it completely? How to handle a broken thing with care, to bring it back to life and purpose again?
Oh, the lessons to consider while laboring over the crokinole board! How like our lives and families enduring the trials and hardships in a changing and challenging world. The efforts to fit together pieces that seem disjointed, don’t want to merge, resist rejoining, or that are enduring pressure threatening to break and destroy. The crokinole board is just one more testament of lasting endurance, and of the strength one might forget is the stuff we are made of. Yes, we are parts and pieces, separately or in concert with those around us. However we find ourselves, I hope to remember our Maker has fashioned us of stuff that is meant to last and endure. And He is always available to repair, refashion and restore us to beauty and purpose. We are made through great love and care by His grand design.
Isaiah 45:18 (NKJV)
For thus says the Lord,
Who created the heavens,
Who is God,
Who formed the earth and made it,
Who has established it,
Who did not create it in vain,
Who formed it to be inhabited:
“I am the Lord, and there is no other.
Genesis 2:7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being
So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
Lead me, O Lord, in Your righteousness because of my enemies;
Make Your way straight before my face.