One of my favorite televisions shows is Malcom in the Middle. It went off the air a few years back, but I always record the syndicated airings of it on our DVR box. One of the episodes I watched a few days ago featured the show’s three youngest brothers visiting their oldest brother at a ranch where he works. In the episode, the youngest of the crew, Dewey, is asked by kindly and naive owner’s wife not to touch some antique native American toys. Of course he does anyway and ends up breaking it. The woman is heartbroken and yells at Dewey. Of course, Dewey then feels bad and later goes to apologize to the woman, who then feels bad for yelling at him. She tells him that the best medicine for guilt is to work your body to the bone until you’re sore all over. So, the two of them go off and clean every inch of the ranch until they both feel better.
Of course, we know that the woman’s advice to Dewey is technically bad advice. Working hard is about as good a medicine for guilt as Aspirin is for cancer. But, I think there is a shaft of truth in her sentiments.
I have a small fire pit in my back yard which, a few times a week, friends like to gather a round and enjoy each other’s company. Well, as it is, firewood quickly becomes a pressing commodity. Yesterday, I happened upon a apple tree being cut down, so I collected most of the wood and hauled it off to my house. I ended up with a couple dozen huge sections of freshly cut tree that wasn’t going to season very well in its gigantic condition. So, a friend and I spent a few hours this afternoon splitting wood.
In several hours, we worked through about half of the pile and managed to keep all of our fingers and toes (usually I lose one appendage or another when swinging an axe). I have to say that it’s interesting how similar the feelings are following a strong devotion and swinging a fifteen pound axe for three hours. It sheds experiential light on the old proverb:
I believe I will enjoy this opportunity over the next few days to hack up the rest of this wood and experience what kind of physical and spiritual rewards the work of these hands might bring.