Wednesday, July 23, 2014

I Am a Pencil

When I walked into church that Sunday it was all I could do to conceal my delight! My well-used, well-loved mechanical pencil was sporting a new eraser, thanks to my husband who had found one while rummaging through his night stand the evening before. I had needed a new eraser for months, but I opted to erase the hard way by painstakingly prying the eraser from one side with my pinkie fingernail, lifting it up ever so carefully until it was higher than the case that held it captive, and then, taking caution as to not apply too much pressure that could cause tearing, erasing the graphite from the thin pages of my scriptures. Truth was, I had put off buying a new eraser. Buying a refill was the last thing on my mind when I went to the store. Plus, inexpensive, mechanical pencils really ought to be replaced, not just given a new eraser. But, I was not yet ready to give up my pencil, even semi-sans eraser. After all, this was my scripture pencil. The notes within the margins of my scriptures were from this pencil. The highlights and underlines were from this pencil. And on the night I needed to know, more than any other time in my life, that God knew me and knew what I was going through, this pencil marked my answer in a verse found in Alma 36.

I had not always marked my scriptures this way. For years, I had marked by code. Red for Atonement. Orange for Missionary Work. Blue for Repentance. Yellow for Light. My Church Coloring Book, my husband called it. I was too far into the rainbow when I came to the conclusion there were so many gospel topics and not enough colors. Eventually, I terminated marking by code, but kept marking with colors. Oh, how I loved those colors! It wasn't until my mother gifted me a new set of scriptures for my 38th birthday – the first set embossed with my married name – that I decided it would be a good time to use my husband’s scripture marking system, which only employed a mechanical pencil.

Sometime between the Bishop’s welcome from the pulpit and the opening song, my seven year old son began pestering me about wanting to draw. My children know our rules. No pencils until after the Sacrament is over. He wasn't happy. A missionary was speaking that day. There were a lot of people in the congregation. That meant his drawing time would be shortened tremendously if he waited until after the Sacrament was over. He persisted. I prevailed.

Immediately following the Sacrament, I quietly handed my son my mechanical pencil. He had been as patient as a seven year old, but as cunning as a teenager. Instead of using the ward bulletin he had discreetly guarded as his medium to doodle, he slyly pulled out from his scriptures two pieces of carefully folded, blank, white sheets of paper, and confidently placed them on his green hymn book. This boy of mine was an artistic delight. He would construct a fort during Sacrament Meeting if he had scissors and tape to go along with his pencil and paper. He smiled as he looked up at me, clicked my pencil several times and began to draw.

Every now and again, I glanced over to see what my seven year old artist was drawing. This was one of his more intricate pictures. There were shadowed mountains and leafy trees. A trickle of a river ran its course down hilly terrain. And there was a sun. A sun with very thick rays. I was happy that he was happy. I was even happier that he was no longer pestering me about wanting to draw.

It was near the end of the closing hymn when I peered to my left to see what had become of son's picture. Apparently, from the white piece of paper in front of him, he had tucked the first illustration away and was starting on his second. Who will be the lucky recipient of his Sacrament Meeting art work, I thought. Next to drawing itself, my son loved giving his drawings away. As I looked upon his blank sheet of paper for just a moment longer, I realized he wasn't using a new piece of paper at all. No, my son’s mountain/tree/sun with thick rays picture had been meticulously erased. The closing prayer was just about to begin as I grabbed my pencil. MY NEW ERASER! His paper was white and my eraser was no longer new. In fact, it was almost as small as it was when I replaced it the night before!

My eyes began to protrude with obvious displeasure. My heart began to race. My body temperature surged with intense provocation. I waited impatiently for the “Amen,” with full intent to reprove my son with sharpness - knowing full well that I was not being moved upon by the Holy Ghost  - when a feeling, so tender and soft came into my mind and caught me so off guard that it cut into my heart.

“Um, isn't that what an eraser is for? Isn't that why I came to earth?  I came to die for you. I died for you so that you could become as clean as that paper. It is I who makes you clean. My Atonement is your Eraser .”

Immediately, all the pencils we had in our home flashed before my eyes. I saw every single one of them, and quickly realized that most had no erasers left on them. It’s the eraser part that goes first. And usually, when I find pencils without erasers at my house, I throw them away. What good are pencils without erasers, anyway? On that Sunday I learned it’s the other way around. Without Jesus Christ, I would have been thrown out a long, long time ago.

I am a pencil and Christ, He is my Eraser .

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful insight, thanks for taking to the time to share.