In The Master's Hands
By Dawn Amsden Stark
I bought a wall clock a few years ago that I really loved, but quickly learned it didn't work quite right. It was one of those cute, decorative, big-hands, small-battery operated clocks. It fit my coastal chic décor perfectly, but was lousy at keeping time. Occasionally it would work as expected, but more often than not we’d look up at the wall and realized that clock was seriously behind schedule.
Over the course of time (no pun intended), we replaced the battery, tighten the screws holding the parts in place, and even bought a new set of hands to try and fix the problem. Nothing we tried fixed the clock. At some point, the hands just dropped and stopped even trying to move. The clock was simply not functional for the intended purpose of being a keeper of time. At a loss of what else to do, I pulled it off the wall.
When we moved into our current home I had just the space for that cute, albeit not functional clock. I really wanted to hang the broken thing on my wall just because it fit so perfectly. But, it had driven us crazy before because no matter how much you tell yourself it doesn’t matter that it didn’t work, you still expected the darn thing to keep time. Our brains are funny that way. We expect a clock to tell time, not just be wall décor.
Maybe it was time to seek some professional help to restore and reset this piece I loved. Maybe there was a master tradesman or artisan that knew exactly what we needed to make this clock function. Maybe somebody somewhere could help us repair the time.
There are only three clock shops in our entire community; clearly restoring beautiful and precious pieces is a by-gone tradition in our disposable world. Walking into this shop, only open a few days per week and only a few hours on those days, was like stepping back in time. From the stately grandfather clocks to the quirky wall-hanging cuckoos, clocks of every size and style were all syncing in a similar rhythm and all dancing together in the expected tick-tock sound.
As the shop’s aged owner walked towards the front to greet me, I was struck by one particular set of clock guts that were strewn all over the counter obviously in mid-repair. The hands were separated from each other, lying off to one side was the face, on the other side were some gears, and on the counter nearby was the clock body. To me, it looked like one big mess of parts. To the master craftsman, the one with the magnification spec in one eye and a lifetime of experience, it probably made a lot more sense - something more like a beautiful work of art in the middle of a needed restoration.
I showed the clock repairer my simple, yet cute, wooden wall clock. Immediately he diagnosed the problem: the clock’s guts were too small to function through the wooden frame and too small for the big hands on the front. The clock needed a bigger mechanism that would be better suited for the size and style of this piece. For $35 and a few more days of patience, he would repair our coastal clock so that it could function effectively.
In the midst of the loud tick-tocking, cuckoo-birding, step back in time moment it hit me: the master craftsman always knows what is needed to reset and restore each piece. Sometimes the master has to get to the core to the matter, by taking the smallest inward and hidden pieces apart, to reset the function. Other times, critical parts needs to be replaced with parts better suited for the environment in which they must operate.
None of the tinkering, simple-repairs by the adoring and well-intentioned clock owner could fix what needed to be repaired with this unit. There are situations when only those with a lifetime of experience and special skills can make the clock tick again. Sometimes, you have to leave your loved and super cute, yet un-functioning pieces, in the hands of a master. In those times, you walk away and trust that the Master will complete what he has promised and will return your clock better than it was when it first came into your hands.
Dawn's Blog can be found here.
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