Martha Coe was grieving – and it hurt his heart. He watched her walk by the window of his shop as he closed up. The few people still on the streets this late in the day openly avoided looking at her. No one called to her or waved. No one believed her story, that was the trouble. No one except him.
“Wouldn't matter anyway,” he muttered, “true or not, wouldn't change the way things are.” The truth was he was soft on Martha. She was a plain little bit of a thing, but when she smiled, which wasn't much lately, it warmed him through and through. He bent to the work before him: a gift for her that had kept him up late nights working.
He'd put more than just his hands into this – he'd put his whole heart. It was a beautiful piece of work. He'd used the best wood he could find. Tonight he'd be finishing up, sealing the wood. There was fancy work on the front and back: carvings etched into the wood of birds and leaves with a trailing vine. He'd been painstaking with the process and even put hints of colors on the birds and leaves with reds, blues and greens. He hoped the little cradle would bring some joy to her and help her to look forward to the child.
He thought of the life growing in her and a verse from the Psalms came to mind. God spoke of how He knit the person together inside the womb. Will remembered how carefully he'd crafted this little cradle, and the pleasure it gave him. It would be hurtful if it wasn't appreciated. He thought he knew in a small measure how carefully God crafted each life and the joy He took in the work He'd done. The Master would use the best for each person according to the plan He had for them. No matter how human beings planted the seed, God took it all into His own hands with purpose and skill. There was joy in making something from scraps of wood – how much more pleasure did the Lord feel in making a life from nothing?
There should be joy over Martha's little one, too. It was God's creation as surely as every other child born. It shouldn't be all a heaviness and a burden. It just wasn't right, in Will's mind. Even though Martha had been an unwilling victim, he hoped she would be a willing receiver of God's workmanship – and of his own. As he finished the cradle he spoke his heart to his Father.
Two days later, Will was knocking at the door of the little shack Martha shared with her ailing mother. It was a sorry place. He could see the places where the cold would creep into the house. Martha opened the door slowly, clearly puzzled to see him.
“Mr. Bonner. What brings you by?”
“Got a delivery here for you, Ma'am.”
“For me? What...? Who...?” slowly she opened the door as he lifted the cradle from the ground and carried it past her into the house. Her mouth was still slightly open with surprise. And then she looked at what he'd carried in, studying it carefully. She touched the curved wood rockers and fingered the design of the leaves. Her face seemed to dissolve as tears spilled down her cheeks. He'd hoped for a smile, not tears. Maybe it was a good sign though. Women sometimes did cry when a body wouldn't expect it.
“It's beautiful. Who would ask you to make this for me?”
“Guess I just took it into my head to do it. I just wanted to bring some joy to you, Ma'am.” She dabbed at her tears with the corner of her apron and he saw just a ghost of a smile on her lips.
“Oh, Mr. Bonner. You surely have done that. I thought no one cared. I thought...it's been so hard.”
“Yes, Ma'am. I sure do know about grieving and I know what's it's like to be looked past by people.”
“I have some soup on the stove. Would you...do you think you might want to have a bowl?”
“Oh, yes, Ma'am. I surely would.” Will grinned. The cradle, after all, wasn't the only thing he was working on.
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