A man walked into a pawnshop and went straight to a worn down piece of furniture hidden in the back of the store. He moved several other items that had been stacked against it and stepped back to take a look.
The piece of furniture was once a beautiful writing desk made with fine craftsmanship, but the former beauty had been worn away through years of use as it served first one family and then another. These years were followed by even more years of disuse after it had been left out on the curb and salvaged by the pawnshop owner.
It was no longer beautiful. Its drawers were broken, its roll-top in splinters, its feet uneven and wobbly, its stain faded and surface scratched and dented. Looking at it, it was hard to imagine what the piece had looked originally. You certainly wouldn’t want it in your home. It was a real eyesore.
Even so, the man pulled out the desk and told the shop owner that he wanted to buy it. The shop owner named a price – a surprisingly high price considering the condition of the desk – but the man was willing to pay it, and the transaction was made.
The man loaded the desk in his truck and took it home, where he placed it in his garage. He turned on the overhead light and gave the desk a thorough inspection. He took note of the broken drawers, the splintered roll-top, the wobbly feet and the scarred surface. Nothing escaped his trained eye.
Having completed his assessment, he mentally planned what repairs and improvements would need to be done. Then, he turned off the light and headed to bed. Tomorrow would be soon enough to begin the work.
The next day, the man arrived late in the afternoon with new lumber and a collection of well-worn tools. He was a carpenter, and these were the tools of his trade. He had begun and finished many projects before this one, and he would begin and finish many more. The work thrilled him. It was a labor of love, and he thoroughly enjoyed taking something discarded and bringing out its true value.
With a smile of anticipation and a clear vision of the finished product, the man turned the desk on its side and sawed a heart-shaped piece from the bottom panel. He then replaced it with a custom-made heart piece – golden in color with intricate etchings and made from a fine wood. It was on the bottom panel, where it was unlikely that anyone would see it but him, but it was his trademark and showed the love and care he put into refurbishing the piece. Those familiar with his work knew where to look for his signature.
He turned the desk back up and began with structural repairs. He replaced one of the feet, repaired the broken drawers and built a new roll-top. Before long, evening arrived. The man put away his tools and retired for the night.
The next day, he returned to his work. Using a sanding block, he began working on the inner parts of the desk that no one typically saw. This might have seemed like a waste to most, but again, this was his trademark. He always began from the inside and worked his way out.
After a week, an observer might not have seen much difference, but the man knew how smooth the inner boards had become, how silently the drawers slid in and out, how strong the joints and the frame had become. It was a work of quality he was engaged in – not a work of speed. He was not concerned about turning a quick profit; he wanted the finished product to be a blessing to some family who needed it. He wanted it to bring them joy for years and years to come. He thought about the children and the grandchildren who would live life around this desk, and he wanted the changes he made to bless generations.
And so, he worked, slowly but deliberately – never leaving off a task until it was done to his exacting standards. Then, he moved on to the next area that needed repair, and then the next…
When he was done with the inner parts, he began work on the outer, and the piece began to really transform. Each board was smoothed to take away the abuses of the past. But he didn’t remove every dent or every scar. Some, he knew, added value to the piece and gave it character. Still, even these blemishes received his painstaking attention. In fact, he spent more time on them than he did on the smoother parts, and when he was done, they became the most interesting parts of the whole piece. What was ugly became beautiful and interesting, and those who saw them would want to know more.
When everything was prepared and the dust and grit and stains of past years had been removed, the man applied a covering. It was a deep, reddish stain that soaked into the wood and provided a protective finish. It was such a unique color that those who knew recognized it as the work of the man whenever they saw it.
The man then sealed the piece with a clear, protective coat, installed new hardware to the drawers and roll-top and finally stood back to admire his work. The piece was impressive and made you want to come closer to look. Its wood was so smooth that the man could literally see his reflection in it. He smiled and said a quick, “well done!” to himself. It was good.
In fact, it looked even better now than the day he originally created it. You see, the pawnshop owner thought he was taking advantage of the man when he sold the desk at such a high price, but the man always knew the quality of the workmanship, because he had made it himself many years before. Years of abuse and neglect had all but ruined the desk, but the man trusted in his own unique ability to restore the piece – even to make it better than before. So he paid the high price, and he had no regrets.
Looking at the restored work, he knew exactly who he was going to give it to – a gift for a family that he dearly loved.