Rev. John Farmer’s ‘Reflections’ column


by Rev. John H. Farmer

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Here I sit

  My office was a folding card table in the corner of a small bedroom of our cottage overlooking the Corrotoman River when first I reported to the Irvington Baptist Church.

Soon I folded my table and grew into a nice space with considerable bookshelf space in the parsonage on Irvington Road across from the post office. The home had two front doors off the porch, one into the hall and the other in the church parlor. The parlor and study had been connected by another door, which opened into the front hall of that old Victorian manse. Both office and parlor could be accessed by church and community without having to enter the family’s living quarters.

I enjoyed my time there considerably until my late mother-in-law suffered a stroke and came to live at 4504 Irvington Road. Steps were out of the question; there was nothing to do but move my office into a rarely used guest bedroom on the second floor.

My desk was a build-in-place unit and while it went together in a remarkably short time originally, it took some convincing that it could go upstairs, be reassembled and find itself in a new home as noble as from whence it came. Not thinking that it would ever be moved I had long ago trashed the assembly directions.

After Granny Walker’s exit from the former pastor’s study I sat about to move back to “MY” office downstairs.

The desk absolutely refused to be relocated again. Grumbling as if it were being murdered, it eased down the up staircase and back to where it began service to the preacher. Not a single joint or part of any geometric plane would agree to reassemble. I called upon a carpenter friend who, totally disregarding the cute little plastic expansion connectors took glue, saw, hammer, screws and nails to the pile of teak and fashioned a suitable repair of the component parts.

Later, during a sad epoch in the parsonage, a chap wishing to shoulder some of my burden bounced into my office, foisted a bear hug upon me, turned and horrors, I saw it coming but was unable to yell out, sat upon the corner of my desk. The desk crumbled into the carpet as if it had been bombed.

The next day I bought and hauled home a replacement unit. With gargantuan strength, I unloaded the crate onto the back porch, wrestled it into the door, grunted it up the one step into the front hall and finally into the study. The room groaned, “oh no, here he goes again.” Carefully following the instructions written in four languages, piece upon piece merged with others until the desk base took form. On the floor across the room the credenza likewise took shape. Never mind the few small plastic parts lying about.

With the base in place I grabbed a corner of the top. It weighed a ton or more than when in the “slidable” crate. No manner of aging preacher muscle could move the monument.

I called Deacon Forrester and begged help. Joe quickly arrived and together we assembled the units into a whole every bit as handsome as the pictures portrayed.

Later, when Hazel and I married we remained in the parsonage for a while and then moved up the road to Ghost Hole Pond. The desk shivered as we removed the top and urged the base into the truck. When son-pastor Lee Farmer and I finally got it to the new pastor’s study at the pond, we were exhausted and infuriated at the corners, shelves and so forth, which just would not cooperate. Like in times past, hammer, saw, nails and glue came to our rescue. We joked about not ever having to move my desk again.

Families change and we brought a loved one into our home. Like earlier in this essay the office gave way to Grandma Rosie’s bedroom.

I took a look at our barn out back and decided that if Jesus could be born in a barn a preacher could take up occupancy there as well—almost a Biblical assessment, eh?

I got most of my stuff into a converted horse stall in the renovated barn.

I called upon pastor Craig Smith of Morattico Baptist Church to assist me in moving the desk. Pastor Lee had already mentioned he wanted no part of such an endeavor.

Craig promptly arrived. We urged the top unit off its base and worried it from the room, out of the house and almost into the trailer when it shouted, “No,” and proceeded to fall apart in various unrepairable ways. Somewhat defeated and thoroughly disgusted, Craig and I returned to the office. As we grabbed the base, a much more sound structure and started for the door, it became a pile of kindling.

Thus, a desk shopping trip was in order; a desk that could muster the movements of an aging preacher.

Booth Furniture came to my rescue.

Yep, you guessed it. A couple of years or so later it moved from the barn into the empty bedroom; once more an office.

Here I sit.



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