~Chapter 1: Forgotten Treasure~
The Carpenter who built them frequently walked through the hallway, checking on the wardrobes, speaking with them. Each wardrobe had a voice that was unique and beautiful. Each one possessed a doorway, paneling, and trim designed by the Carpenter. Some were plain looking, others decorated more elaborately.
One day, the Carpenter dropped by one wardrobe and knocked on the door. “Hello, my beloved,” he said gently, “I have come to do some cleaning.”
“Oh, alright,” said the wardrobe. He had been through quite a few cleanings. Quite often though, he would come up with an excuse to stop the Carpenter’s work after a few minutes.
“But my love, please know that this time I must go deep,” said the Carpenter softly with a look of concern. He peered at the bottom edges of the wardrobe wall panels spying mold growth, bits of decay, and foreign fluids oozing out of some areas.
The wardrobe nervously opened its door. He knew the Carpenter was good, but had heard some wardrobes say the only thing the Carpenter really cared about was keeping them in good shape, no matter how much nailing, hammering, and rough sanding had to be done. Some even told the story of a time the Carpenter had to burn a section of one wardrobe that was infected with a wood destroying disease.
The Carpenter smiled, rubbing his hand along the wood grain of the door, which made the wardrobe feel a bit insecure. He knew the Carpenter could see him more clearly than any of the other wardrobes, and the vulnerability made him nervous.
The Carpenter pushed the door open all the way and knelt down. The first thing he removed was an old rusted bucket. Inside the bucket were papers showing silly achievements, such as blog statistics, popularity, praise for good behavior, and all of the past actions the wardrobe felt were valuable. “Do you mind if I take this?” asked the Carpenter.
The Carpenter held it high, with an inquisitive gaze. A large, rusted section fell off the bottom of the bucket and crashed into a hundred pieces on the floor. “I have a much more beautiful treasure chest already made for you. But there is not enough room for both it and this old bucket inside of you. You must choose one or the other.”
“Well, can you take the things out of my old one and put them in the new one you made?”
“I can, but you may not be satisfied with the outcome,” laughed the Carpenter cheerfully.
He pulled up the thick wooden chest the Carpenter had made specially for the wardrobe. Opening it, the wardrobe peered inside. Splashing from side-to-side was a liquid substance that seemed to be light itself. It made the inside of the chest glow with a beautiful brightness. Picking up the old rusted bucket, the Carpenter sat it inside, watching intensely. Suddenly, it burst into a bright flame that danced inside the chest. The bucket and all of the papers and trinkets within disappeared in the flame.
“What happened to my treasure?” asked the wardrobe desperately.
“The Light of Purification destroyed most of it,” replied the Carpenter quite simply.
As the flame subsided, the wardrobe peered into the chest again. Inside, at the bottom of the chest sparkled a few small, but gorgeous jewels. The liquid light danced and shimmered in the different facets of the jewels, making them the most beautiful thing the wardrobe had ever seen.
“Wow, I don’t remember those being in my old chest,” said the wardrobe, quite impressed.
“They were there all along,” the Carpenter replied with confidence. “But you did not realize how beautiful they could become until they were placed into the Light. They are from things like small acts of kindness for which you never received praise or even a thank you. Most of them you have forgotten about.”
~Chapter 2: Scars and Effigies~
The Carpenter proceeded to dig deeper into the wardrobe. Wincing, the wardrobe tensed, its wooden core creaking from the stress. He had hoped the Carpenter would stop at the old bucket. But the Carpenter continued collecting several valuable items into his arms, to which the wardrobe protested, “Hey, those are things that you gave me. Are you taking those away too?”
“Yes, with your permission I want to remove everything.”
“Everything?” cried the wardrobe. “But so many of those are things that you gave me!”
“Will you give them back?”
The wood core of the wardrobe groaned. In case you didn’t know, walking wardrobes are unable to sigh, but rather they groan and creak.
The Carpenter understood the groan to be permission to proceed, and continued removing items.
Some items the wardrobe regretted seeing removed, others he knew he could live without. All of a sudden, the Carpenter stopped. He stooped to pick up a crudely made figurine of another wardrobe. It was scratched, worn, and had been badly beaten.
“Why do you keep abusing this fellow wardrobe within you?” asked the Carpenter looking at the mutilated figurine in his hand.
“Oh Carpenter, if you only understood how badly she hurt me.”
Looking up, the Carpenter could see deep gashes in the wardrobe’s own wood paneling. He ran his strong hands over areas that had been slashed, reading the pain these wounds left. A piece of splintered wood cut into the Carpenters hand, drawing blood. He could, in fact, see the damage even more acutely than the wardrobe itself.
“I am sorry, my beloved,” spoke the Carpenter softly. “This will take much work to repair, and I will never be able to fully remove the scars.”
The wardrobe trembled in response, which is similar to the human action of crying. A part of him had been damaged –innocence lost that even the Carpenter himself could not wave sandpaper over and make disappear.
“I would like to remove the figurine of your fellow wardrobe,” the Carpenter spoke gently.
“But clawing at her within me is the only thing that brings me comfort when I think about those scars,” replied the wardrobe desperately.
“My love, abusing its image is only deepening the scars within you. It is quite literally destroying you. You must let me take it –for your health, for your happiness, and even for your life.”
The wardrobe looked into the Carpenter’s deep, loving eyes. He knew he could trust the Carpenter and he grunted in assent. “I’m not sure I can ever trust another wardrobe to look deep inside of me again,” spoke the wardrobe.
“I know,” replied the Carpenter while removing the figurine and wrapping it in a cloth. “But one day you must learn to trust again. Otherwise, there will come a day when you will be so guarded that you will not even allow me into yourself.”
“I understand,” replied the wardrobe. After the Carpenter removed the figurine, the wardrobe spoke up, “Well, thank you for coming by and cleaning me out. I guess I did need it after all.”
“Yes,” replied the Carpenter while peering inside, “but I am not finished.”
“You mean there’s more?” groaned the wardrobe.
“Yes, there is indeed.” The Carpenter walked toward the wardrobe asking, “Have you not noticed an odd smell?”
~Chapter 3: Disease~
This time, as the Carpenter walked into the wardrobe, he had a hammer and chisel in his hands. He walked into the depths of the wardrobe and began chiseling at something in the back. Much time passed as the Carpenter slowly and expertly extracted something large. “Here is one thing I have really been wanting to remove for a while,” he said with a grunt as he at last broke the object free of its hold on the wardrobe wall. He began to pull out a large object concealed in several layers of burlap. As he came out with it, the wardrobe caught a whiff of the smell.
“Oh my, that stinks horribly! What is that?” he asked, both repulsed and embarrassed that the Carpenter had found such a thing decaying inside of him. Maggots and worms fell from between the folds of the burlap, and as the Carpenter set it down, yellow pus ran out of the sides and several termites and beetles crawled out from underneath.
“This, my beloved,” the Carpenter said as he crushed some of the escaping vermin, “is something that has been growing inside of you for quite a long time. It is a tumor, a wood destroying infection that would have certainly eaten you alive.”
“How horrible,” exclaimed the wardrobe with a tremble. “But what is it? Where did it come from?”
“Some call it Worry, others Fear, and still others Doubt or Unbelief,” explained the Carpenter who began to look sad. “But my love, those are all the same condition with different names: you simply don’t trust me.”
Shocked, the wardrobe didn’t know what to say in response. He began to think of the stories other wardrobes had told him about the Carpenter. They had seemed to fester within him: how the Carpenter only cared about making wardrobes look good, but really didn’t care about the wardrobes themselves; how the Carpenter would become angry with wardrobes who didn’t behave well enough and would throw them into a fire to be destroyed; how the Carpenter would take things he had given the wardrobes and refuse to give them back, saying that he wanted them to build more character; how the Carpenter would take wardrobes who were trying their hardest to please him and run them through a rough sanding process, just to show them they had flaws that could be worked out –there were so many other lies that he had believed.
Trembling, the wardrobe whispered, “Have mercy on me, dear Carpenter. Is it too late? Have I let the infection spread too far?”
Smiling, the Carpenter replied, “There is no such thing as ‘too late’ with me. The infection has spread deeply, but you will heal if you allow me continual access.”
“Thank you, Carpenter!” the relieved wardrobe said. “What should I do to ensure the infection doesn’t spread again?”
“When you feel any of those old lies creeping back within you, remember the words that I have spoken to you, the name that I have carved into you, the beautiful room in my house I am preparing for you, the abundant life I have given you, and the peace, hope, and joy I always leave on the shelf within you to use anytime you need them. And when those things are not enough, simply call my name and see that I will come running to you. Because no ocean is wide enough, nor mountain tall enough, nor hell dark enough, nor gates strong enough, nor storm powerful enough to keep me from you, my beloved.”