Rev. John Farmer’s ‘Reflections’ column

by Rev. John H. Farmer
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A suitable work station

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

After being invited to Irvington as interim pastor, I folded my table and grew into a nice space with considerable bookshelves in the Irvington Road parsonage.

The pastor’s office/study was adjacent to what had been known as the church parlor. The home had two front doors off the porch, one into the hall; 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.

Well, by the time of my occupancy the connecting door and area addressed had been turned into a closet, one of the few in the house.

The deacons bought and brought me into the future. There I taught myself to use a word processor; later still a computer.

I prospered there until my late mother-in-law suffered a stroke. She came to live at 4504 Irvington Road. Steps were out of the question; alas, nothing to do but move my office to the second floor, into a seldom used guest bedroom.

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

Later my mother-in-law moved to Farnham Manor. After her exit I sat about to move back to “my” office.

The move went well enough until 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 and nails to the pile of teak, and fashioned a suitable resurrection of the component parts.

Once 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 “stop,” sat upon the corner of my desk. The desk crumbled to the carpet as if it had been bombed.

So, I bought and hauled home a replacement. With gargantuan strength I unloaded the crate onto the back porch and wrestled it into the door, grunted it up the one step into the front hall and 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.

With the base in place I grabbed a corner of the top. It weighed a ton or more than when in the crate it slid upon the carpet. No manner of aging-preacher muscle could lift the monument.

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

When Hazel and I married we remained in the parsonage for a while. She then invited me up the road to Ghost Hole Pond. Ah, the desk shivered as we removed the top and urged the base into the truck. When 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. We brought Grandma Rosie into our home. Like earlier told, office gave way to a bedroom.

Taking a look at our barn I decided that if Jesus could be born in a barn, a preacher could work there—almost a Biblical assessment, eh?

Soon most of my stuff was in a converted horse stall in the renovated barn.

Pastor Lee had already warned he wanted no part of a desk endeavor. I called upon pastor Craig Smith to assist me in moving the desk.

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 un-repairable ways. Somewhat defeated and disgusted, Craig and I returned to the office. As we grabbed the base, a much more sound structure and started for the door, it too disassembled itself. The desk was kindling.

The missionaries at Booth Furniture came to the rescue and delivered a strong factory built desk. When later life dictated yet another move, they even came and relocated the desk back into our home, without a hitch. My coffee cup sits at the ready, on that desk as I tell this tale of preacher’s woe…


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