Wednesday, January 16, 2008


The Boxmaker's Son by Donald Smurthwaite

Saturday, August 25, 2007

**Donald Smurthwaite has written another beautiful story about love and family and friends. He has such an eloquent way of expressing feelings that we all know but can't quite put into words. No other author pulls at my heartstrings the way Smurthwaite does.
**"The BoxMaker's Son" is told by a son as a tribute to his father. What a collection of nostagia is bound up in this story of growing up in a lower middle class neighborhood during the late 50's and early 60's. We relive the childhood games of kick-the-can and street baseball, when everyone knew their neighbors, when time moved more slowly. The book doesn't contain any earth-shattering experiences, just a collection of simple but profound truths. It's a feel good read as Neal talks about the lessons he learned from his father's examples. As in his other books, Smurthwaite also illustrates a wonderful understanding of the Resurrection and Atonement of Christ, as he finds small acts and life experiences that are daily reminders of those supreme acts. While this is a deeply religious book, it doesn't preach to or work at improving the reader; it simply lets you feel.
**I marked so many passages in this book that spoke to me. Here are some that I hope will convey the flavor and poignancy of Smurthwaite's work.
"A man can dream of making boxes. I know that. My father made boxes. The Savior was a carpenter. I wonder if He ever created a wooden box. I think He must have. What tender care He must have used in creating his boxes, to make sure the corners fit and were tight and that they would last a long time. His boxes last for eternities. . . My father has something to show for his life. The boxes he made.
This was an analogy after the boys lost their one and only baseball:
"And then, when we were about to give up, when we were hopeless, sometimes, at the last possible second, someone would spot the ball, and the game would be resumed, with joy. The game went on, its life renewed. He died, He rose. From something lost to something found, something destroyed to something restored. From lost ball to found ball, and then the game, and our life, went on."
"I have learned that greatness is not often born at the head of armies or standing before large gatherings of people. I have learned that it is only rarely manifested in grandiose words or bold action and that it has little to do with position or title or authority. Rather, true greatness most often comes from small turnings within the soul, in quiet ways, in actions that the world will little note. Greatness is around us, below us. It is not often above us. We need to reach down for greatness, where the small things are at our feet. It comes in small, simple words and sublime magnanimity."
This quote comes after a young man has asked for the oldest sister's hand in marriage:
"This is not like making boxes at a factory, where you feed the fiber into the machine and the machine stamps out the box, perfect lines, perfect creases, right angles in a world that loves right angles. This is a part of life, a part of who you are and what you must experience, this is a part where you feel for the wind and set your sail and let the breeze take you wherever it may. And you can fight the breeze or you can let it blow you to the shore where you are supposed to land.
This is a part of the picture where God lets you put your experience and what you know and what you feel to work for you, and He steps back and thinks with loving kindness, "All right. Show me. Prove to me. This is where I have given you the outline and now you fill it all in with the colors you select. It is your picture. It is your painting. You can choose the colors."
At the end of the book, many years later, the narrator returns to his old church and visits with the man who served as his bishop when he was young.
"How can I explain to him all that I feel, all that seems to have come together and converged at this tender moment, at this place? I can only tell him this one thing, curious as it sounds.
"I can make boxes."
He nods. He knows. He also has made boxes. We have something in common, as do all who humbly follow. Our sturdy lives, square corners. The greatness we see when we bow our heads. The Savior was a carpenter. I think He made boxes. I can also build beautiful things.
My father once told me, I like people who try.
I am a boxmaker, too."
Rating: 5

Posted by Framed at 7:44 AM

Candleman said...
Thanks for the great review. I've seen and wondered about this book several times. Now, it is certain, I will read and enjoy it.

8/25/2007 9:52 AM
Booklogged said...
Wonderful, stirring quotes. I was just thinking I should buy it for Candleman. Now I wonder if he's already ordered it. I'll read it, too, but I'll let him go first. I like to read a book after he has marked what touches him. Actually, I'd like to read your copy, too.

8/25/2007 9:56 PM
Framed said...
I used book darts and then took them off. My other Smurthwaite books are all marked up. The next time I read this one, I'm using a marker.

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