Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Father Time: The Story of a Magical Clock Shop

In an abandoned lighthouse on the coast of Great Point in Nantucket, Massachusetts, an elderly bearded man in overalls opened the windows to a bright July morning. 

Over time, he had converted the tower and its nearby buildings into The O’Clock Shop, where he made and repaired clocks. 

“I can fix anything that ticks,” the man who many people called Father Time quipped. “Bring me your clocks and your watches, even if they run on batteries. Time flies! I’ll help you catch it.”

His shop was filled with little clocks, big clocks, grandfather clocks, wrist watches, and pocket watches. Each of them tick-tocked at once, causing most customers to feel dizzy with the noise, especially when he turned up an unknown radio station that only played songs about time. 

“The channel comes in since I’m near the coast,” he explained to visitors, glancing at his painting “A Dance to the Music of Time” by Nicolas Poussin. “Once in a while, the station plays songs in cut time with two half-note beats per measure,” he continued. “As if anyone was counting, cut time is not at all common time, but you knew that already. It’s all about time!”

On his wall hung a huge scythe, a large hand tool, in case he needed to cut back the beach grass, and a bronze and silver hourglass sat next to the cash register that he flipped each New Year.  Customers often swore that they saw wings on his back, such as John Gray, the neighboring fisherman, who looked at Father Time, convinced he saw large, daunting wings on his shoulders. When Mr. Gray looked again, the wings were gone, as if they were never there in the first place. 

“Did you see the wings this time?” Mr. Gray would ask his wife Joan when they visited the shop.

“No, honey, I didn’t see the wings,” Joan chuckled, admiring the clocks. “Maybe next time.”

As the beach waves crashed against the shore, they created an ebb and flow rhythm almost like a clock. With each splash of water, a new timepiece came alive as the clocksmith tinkered away.

“What a brilliant moon hangs over the ocean tonight,” Father Time pronounced in awe, standing atop his lighthouse after a full day’s work. He lit the tower for sailors that journeyed across the ocean in sea time. “I’m a timekeeper for the ages. The pendulum swings wide! I wonder who will come into the shop tomorrow, and how I’ll be able to help with the evil Hours.”

“Eliad, maybe I’ll stop by with some friends,” called Mother Nature from the moonlit beach to Father Time. She lived up the coast in a small cottage overgrown with flowers, fruit trees, and stalk vegetables. Flowers intertwined with the golden locks of her hair, as if the daises and roses grew from her own scalp. The starlight shone on her countenance that radiated like a vibrant angel in a silk dress. 

“See you in the morning, Autumn!” Father Time exclaimed, clearly in love with his elegant neighbor. “I’d really enjoy some more of your blueberries from the bushes in your back garden.”

“I’ll see what I can do,” Mother Nature replied, leaving a trail of flower petals in the shadowy sand. “I long for the fullness of time!” she called. 

Bright and early, Mother Nature knocked on Father Time’s shop door with a large bowl of blueberries and a group of tourists who she’d met on her morning walk, interested in his magical clocks. 

“What a time and season!” Miss Nature chuckled. “Do you have advice for such a time as this?” she asked. 

Depending on which clocks the customers bought, Father Time showed his patrons how to turn back the Hours, turn forward the Hours, make the Hours stand still, and even extend the Hours.  

“Let me tell you a little secret,” Father Time whispered, when he was sure he could trust the customer. “If you turn the hands seven times backward and then seven times forward, you will get seven more hours in your day. I thought I’d let you know in case you need some more time.”

“What are you talking about?” most customers questioned, confused at Father Time’s advice. The idea of what he was saying could happen was beyond their ability to believe. 

“The real question though is if you’re in need of Chronos or Kairos,” Father Time clarified. “Do you know the difference? Chronological or sequential time is different than a time for action. If an alarm goes off on one of my clocks, it’s time to hit the target like an archer. Kairos is pivotal.”

In most of his clocks, Father Time hid instructions in a back secret door, where customers could find the information when they were ready to confront the fleeting time in their lives.

“Did you know that you have a ticker, just like a clock?” Father Time joked to Mother Nature, scooping handfuls of the blueberries into his mouth. “A patient heart beats a lot stronger. A day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.”

“It just takes a little time,” Mother Nature explained, fixated on a swinging pendulum. 

“Is there any place in your lives that you need to sow seeds?” Autumn asked the strangers that she invited into the shop that morning. 

            Unsure of what to say, the visitors shrugged their shoulders in silence. 

One dainty customer quietly pressed the keys on an upright piano in the corner, keeping in step with its metronome that would not deviate a beat. 

“If I plant seeds today, sometimes I don’t reap a harvest for years,” Autumn announced. “This is a trustworthy saying: ‘God has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

“I want to be beautiful!” the little girl in the tourist group cheered, running to the largest grandfather clock at the front of the shop, opening its main door, and trying to squeeze herself into the clock body. The clock was decorated with gold trim and carvings. It had a special glow about it as though it was other-worldly. 

“This clock is centuries old! It’s priceless and not for sale. The ancient Greeks built it,” Father Time scolded, grabbing her and plopping her on the ground. “You can’t live in a clock anyhow! Make the most of every opportunity because the days are evil. Number your days!”

“Have you heard from that unscrupulous beast called the Hours?” Mother Nature inquired, shinning up the glass door where the little girl smudged it. 

“He leaves me threatening notes time after time,” Father Time answered. “I throw them out and keep selling my clocks. No one deserves to have even a minute stolen from them. The Hours is ruthless and steals so much from so many people, but not if I have anything to say about it.”

“The Hours is completely cuckoo,” Mother Nature sighed, listening to the cuckoo clock sound at thirty minutes past ten. 

“My vegetable garden was torn to shreds, and I spent so much time tending to it. I know it was the Hours, but the only thing I can do is try to redeem the time and turn the hands back on one of your clocks. Other people have many worse things that need redemption, but it’s still upsetting. I was looking forward to hearty vegetable soups.”

A large gust of wind rushed through The O’Clock Shop, shaking the machines on the walls. Several alarms went off at once, including the enchanted grandfather clock.

As Father Time looked out the window, he saw the Hours standing in the high grass, swinging his scythe. 

“How did you steal my sickle again?” Father Time yelled at him out the window. He looked at his wall to see the empty space where it had been hanging. “Give it back now!”

“The Hours must have slipped through the shop when we weren’t looking,” Mother Nature cried, looking at the trembling customers. “Do his tricks ever end?”

The skeleton body of the Hours was robed in a black-hooded cape. A pale horse stood beside him, neighing and screeching. A crow hovered over his shoulder. A snake with a tail in its mouth creeped at his feet. 

“A crazy man is outside your shop, swinging a large knife!” yelled neighbor John Gray, running up Father Time’s front walkway, out of breath, and into The O’Clock Shop. “What is going on around here?”

“Maybe we should just call the police, honey!” his wife, Joan, cried, standing in shock in the shop, finally seeing the wings on the back of the clockmaker. “He does have wings!” she gasped. 

“Nothing lasts forever! I have come for your souls!” The Hours screamed, and his voice echoed up and down the coast. “You cannot escape me! Time devours all things!”

“Speak of the Hours,” Father Time warned, walking over to his priceless grandfather clock, and stopping the mortal hands of time. “Now be gone!” he called to the Hours. 

With that, the Hours disappeared, nowhere to be found, and Father Time’s scythe reappeared on his wall. Then, the clockmaker allowed the hands of time on his ancient grandfather clock to begin once more.

“Guard yourself everyone from the Hours! Don’t let him steal from you,” Father Time instructed. “He’s gone for now, but he comes back when you least expect it. You never know what he might do! You don’t owe him anything. There is a time for everything! I’ll put my time signature on that for life. Life and life to the full!” 


Copyright 2023 Jennifer Waters

The Potter's House: The Story of Clay and The Wheel

“Come on in,” invited Sage Conrad, a renowned potter in Charleston, South Carolina, who was also known for her studio called The Wheel. “Class today will focus on wheel throwing,” she explained as a handful of students entered her studio’s front door on the June morning.

As legend had it, anyone who was a student of Sage’s was sure to experience a miracle, not like a hokey, made-up one, but a deep, mystical encounter that caused the person to change from the inside out. Like most mornings, her longtime friend Alfred Odin sat in the back of the studio, reshaping the clay on his wheel. 

“I just can’t get it right,” the gray-haired man moaned. “Sage, I know you think that your new students are here for life lessons, and you have something to teach them, and they have something to teach you. I don’t want to hear it. I really don’t.”

“God bless you, Alfie,” she laughed, kissing him on the cheek. She fixed her curly dark hair and adjusted her glasses as she put on her quilted apron. “Is your rosary still hidden in your pocket? For someone who loves to curse God, you have a funny way of always carrying a cross in your pocket just in case He might be watching you. Will you ever learn?” she asked, shaking her head.

“You don’t have to tell everyone my secrets,” Alfie snapped, slamming the clay onto the center of the wheel head. As his rosary stuck out of his pocket, he used his fingers to open the clay. 

Since his bowl was a bit lopsided, he started over again, kneading the clay like dough. 

“O Lord, You are our Father, we are the clay, and You our potter; and all of us are the work of Your hand,” Sage read from the hand-carved sign at the front of her class, quoting Isaiah 64:8. “The first major question is what will you allow God’s hands to make of your life? Are you workable? The second major question is what will you make with your own hands? And why?”

“Jesus help me, I have heard this speech so many times,” Alfie mumbled, reforming the walls of his piece, which was starting to resemble a small, crooked bowl. “Next, she will talk about being a willing vessel for the purposes of the Lord. If I have to hear this one more time . . .”

“Before we begin, we need to stand up and sing praise,” Sage instructed. “Everyone on your feet! If you don’t know the words to ‘Have Thine Own Way, Lord,’ they are on the blackboard. Just sing along, even if you don’t know the tune,” she gestured, pointing to four verses of lyrics.

“Have Thine own way, Lord, have Thine own way; Thou art the Potter, I am the clay,” Alfie crooned, wearily conducting from the back of the room as the class sang off- key. He stammered under his breath: “My favorite song of all time.”

“Now, today, I am going to teach you the basics of making pottery on a wheel,” Sage announced to the students as they sat down. Several broken and cracked pieces of pottery sat on a windowsill at the front of the class as light shone through them. “By the time we are finished, I want to hear what you made and why. I’m hoping that you are an open and willing vessel for the Lord, even with your cracks. There’s nothing better that you could be in the whole wide world!”

“I didn’t know that we had signed up for a church class,” one of the adult students whispered. 

“Hush, Wilbur, she’s the best potter in the state,” his wife, Minerva, insisted. “Look at her pottery on the shelves, even the broken ones are magnificent. I’ve never seen such beautiful and elegant pieces.”

Meanwhile, a group of teenagers were taking notes, wanting to mold their clay into greatness.

“I think she’s making a lot of good points,” one of the girls whispered to the others.

“I’m doing this for you, Minerva, because I love you,” Wilbur stated, making the teenagers giggle. His wife shook her head. “I’m not an artist.”

“Did I hear you say that you’re not an artist?” Sage eavesdropped. 

"Yes, ma'am," Wilbur stated. "Art is not for everyone."

“Your thoughts are mighty strong, and if you speak negativity, that’s all you’ll get. You are an artist. You’ve already been at the wheel of your life. How’s it been going?”

“His mistake,” Alfie sighed, rolling his eyes. “He should’ve known better than to argue!”

“It’s going even better since I walked into your studio this morning,” Wilbur assured Sage. 

“So glad to hear that! The first thing you’re going to learn is his how to take a lump of clay and make it into a ball,” Sage taught. “First, you must prepare the clay, just like God prepares you.”

“God prepares you,” Alfie quipped, giving up for the morning. “The clay can’t be too wet or too dry, and you can’t have bubbles, or you might explode when He bakes you in the furnace.”

“Even if the clay has been used before, it can be made workable again,” Sage nodded at Alfie. “God is always working and reworking at His wheel, as it seems good for Him to do.”

Much of the class listened to Sage in awe, realizing that she had a higher awareness than most of them during their daily lives, yet it seemed they were soft enough to be molded by her. 

“God is going to make something great out of you yet, Alfie,” Sage joked, looking at his latest creation with a critical eye. “He might have to break you first, if you won’t bend, but He will get his way. He loves you too much to leave you in your current condition, and so do I.”

“She’s been in love with me since we were teenagers,” Alfie blurted, interrupting her class on the way out the door. “She could never admit how much she loved me. Her vessel has a few cracks!”

“It took a lot of molding, but the Lord brought me this far, didn’t He Alfie?” Sage smiled, sitting down in front of a treadle wheel to teach the class her techniques firsthand. “On the contrary, Alfie is so stubborn and hard-headed that sometimes he misses the blessing as a crackpot!”

Despite the spat between Sage and Alfie, the students crafted their clay jars with care. 

By the end of the day, the pupils had each made some sort of earthen vessel, ready for the first firing of the kiln, and then the glazing, and then firing their handiwork for the second time. 

“I receive whoever the Lord sends me,” Sage explained as the students departed for the day. “Now, every time you look at your finished creation, you can remember that you are a willing vessel. What stories I have from students over the years! It has been no greater honor than to be clay in the hands of the Potter. Who knows what miracles you will now experience!” 


Copyright 2023 Jennifer Waters

Hiccup Hiccup: The Story of Froggy Burps and Bumps

A hiccup is not the same as a burp,

And neither is it a type of a slurp. 

As a frog, people think I’m a twirp. 

I do croak, and I do not chirp.  

If I hit a bump in the pond, 

It makes my body want to respond.

The lily pads are very fond

Of my ability to hop beyond. 

I am not rude, or crass, or crude.

I hiccup when I’m in a good mood. 

I drink water to make it conclude, 

And I always have great gratitude!


Copyright 2022 Jennifer Waters