I was ready to start the weed chopper and mow the strip at the sides of the Shepherd’s Gate house and driveway. Two or three mowings a season is enough to keep new trees and plants from encroaching “my” space, which is fifteen to twenty feet around the perimeter of the house. The rest of the surrounding acres remain wild woodland and take care of themselves. The engine started well, but the mounted mower whiplines did not engage. Turning off the engine I found the belt had slipped off its pulley. If I had not already been thinking about my father, this could easily have reminded me of the many times some piece of equipment broke down and delayed the work of planting or harvest or general farm maintenance.
When it came to tools my father was not the most organized. Keeping the right tool in the right location was a challenge, and as a result there were usually a dozen places where that tool might be. The tool house was well-organized, thanks to the my older brother’s intervention, but tools tended to migrate from there to every tractor, barn, crib and shed which had its own specialized tool collection. It was always frustrating to run into a task that required the tool that was somewhere on the other side of the farm. In my case on this day, the small tool box I had with me held only pliers, inadequate to the task of removing the cover to reinstall the belt. The plumbing kit, ready for the bathroom fixture installation tasks that I had planned for this trip, had wrenches that were much too large to reach the bolts I had to loosen.
Then I thought of the small toolbox Dad gave me to use at Shepherd’s Gate. It had a few well-worn basic tools. Did I remember that it had a driver and socket set? I looked and it had only two sockets, but what were the chances that these were the ones that would fit? I took them out to the chopper, and one fit the larger bolts, and the other one fit the smaller bolts perfectly! Thereafter the job was a snap. Thanks, Dad.
This is hardly evidence convincing to anyone of a surrounding cloud of witnesses or an angelic host. Plenty of times I have had to learn from my oversights, go out and buy or borrow the necessary tool, or take that extraordinary amount of time to complete the simplest task. But this time Dad was definitely present, patiently gazing over my shoulder, and chuckling, so I add it to the list of revealing moments when I speak my grateful dues and recognize the continuing influence of the unseen. Thank you, Abba!