When most of us think of chopsticks, we visualize someone eating a delicious Asian meal. My son and my husband are two people that are adept at using chopsticks. My husband, Bill, says that chopsticks help him enjoy food. Of course, the wood texture itself enhances the taste, but, as well, he finds that with chopsticks he doesn’t just stuff large amounts of food into his mouth, but he becomes selective, enjoying each food morsel as he swallows it. He can eat every last grain of rice on his plate. It is all I can do but restrain him from eating Spanish rice and beans with his chopsticks. That is just not right.
But, for Bill, this is only the beginning of his friendship with chopsticks. Several years ago, one of our old fuse boxes wasn’t working well. The connections were not touching the fuses. So, Bill stuffed a chopstick behind each connection to hold the terminals in place. It looked like the fuse box was in a state of major acupuncture, where the needles are never removed. This procedure worked well for several years until we could afford a new circuit breakers system. The electricians were aghast when they saw the acupunctured box, but it helped us temporarily!
His greatest use of chopsticks is with gluing. Chopsticks are helpful for the discerning book lover to glue books. The ends of the chopsticks can be used to glue broken bindings. How can one insert the glue into small and delicate separations? Only a chopstick does the job!
What about shoes? When old but comfy shoes are starting to separate, the chopsticks can insert shoe glue into the edges to extend the life of one’s favorite shoes (and to hold off for a little while purchasing a new pair).
When we traveled to the Dominican Republic to furnish our condo, we brought some old lamps and vases in our overhead suitcases. Unfortunately, they did not arrive in one piece. One ceramic lamp ended up with almost 40 small pieces. We were going to throw it away. But, we were on vacation, so I started to reassemble together the larger pieces. I had nothing better to do and it was like doing a jigsaw puzzle. But, how could we keep the pieces together permanently? And, what to do with the small pieces that one could barely hold onto? Bill remembered his chopsticks friends and glued all the pieces together and thereby finished the whole lamp. We spray painted that lamp a dark green and turned the worse part to the wall and placed on it an attractive green shade and no one knows what a wreck it had been. And, we saved buying an expensive lamp!
We found a large plastic abandoned plant on one of our streets and cut the central stem into two and stuffed it into our large suitcase and then brought that with us to the Dominican Republic to decorate the living room. Bill put a dowel in and glued the two parts of the base together and it looked good. But then the Caribbean trade winds blew many of those plastic leaves and twigs off and little children pulled more off. The last time we arrived, the plant looked like it had barely survived a Northern winter. It was pitiful and almost ready for the trash pickup. However, its leaves and twigs were waiting for us in a plastic bag. How could Bill hold onto these delicate little leaves while he attempted to glue them onto the twigs? Yes, only chopsticks would work. The chopsticks help one hold onto items because one’s fingers are too thick.
So, chopsticks are the all-purpose tool. They can be used for every gluing job and many other jobs as well by the discerning repairperson.
The other day, something fell between two heavy furniture pieces. There was no room for one’s hands to enter that small space. No problem for Bill! He retrieved his chopsticks from their stately place among the other tools, the hammer, pliers, and screwdrivers, and edged out the cloth that had fallen through.
How on earth does learning about the all-purpose tool, the mighty chopsticks, relate to the Bible, since this blog is called Applying Biblical Truths Today?? I thought of two applications. One is Ecclesiastes 4:9-13. Solomon encourages friendship, especially in marriage, because if one person falls, the other will lift him or her up, but when one is alone, no one can help. Also, if someone comes to attack, one person by him/herself cannot prevail, but two can withstand an enemy. Certainly, Solomon’s words apply to our relationship in marriage, but it also applies to a laborer and his chopsticks. Bill might fail in some of these challenging household repairs if he did not have his trusty chopsticks to help him. (These handy suggestions are also helpful for women who can use chopsticks, which I do not do successfully. When I go to use chopsticks, the two halves are always separating and the food continually falls between them!)
Another application can come from Ecclesiastes 3:13 or 5:18. One continual thread in this book is that “it is God’s gift that all should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil” and “it is fitting to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of the life God gives us” (NRSV). Chopsticks have served as a way that Bill can take pleasure in all his toil. They are a gift of God to the person who wants to save money by preserving one’s possessions and thereby have more to give to others who are needy or who are advancing God’s kingdom. Wooden chopsticks often come free of charge after a meal at a favorite Chinese restaurant. The meal is enjoyed and one can bring home a trusty friend and co-laborer.
I have to close now and go outside and see how Bill is faring, gluing on the end of our car fender with, of course,….