The Shroud

Last summer a Cowley College relocation project involved turning a seldom-used conference room into office space for two teachers. One wall of the room hosted a 4 x 4 whiteboard cabinet that appeared to be in imminent danger of interfering with the proposed subdivision. As you know, interfering with a proposed subdivision is dang near a capital offense in a capitalist society. So, in order to spare as much hostility, destruction, contention and controversy as possible, I issued an executive order.

Soon thereafter, a maintenance crew showed up with the hundred-and-fifty pound cabinet and installed it on the east wall of my office. I had to move one of my favorite pictures but such are the sacrifices of the bourgeois. With its simulated mahogany finish, the cabinet actually looked pretty good framing in the meeting space on that side of the room. Blends nicely with the simulated mahogany finish on the heavy round table around which my administrative team and I gather on a semi-regular basis.

Even more appealing is the functionality of the cabinet. Its twin doors open up to reveal a 4 x 4 writing surface. Each door has a 2 x 4 writing surface and bonus reversible, removable panel. That yields a total of about sixty-four square feet of writing surface neatly tucked away. Exceptionally handy for taking notes during brainstorming and other planning sessions. We’ve developed grant proposals and mapped out semester plans on it.

The only disappointment has been with the removable writing panels. The one time I wrote on them, I had to use cleaning spray to remove the dry erase marking. Very disappointing, especially considering it wasn’t a matter of leaving the script up for several weeks. I’d tried to erase it within fifteen minutes. Usually, on a good quality board, the marking comes right off quickly and easily. Not with these brats. I had to scrub them like farm kids on a Saturday night.

Not wanting to spend much time scrubbing whiteboard, I started just setting the panels out of the way during discussions. That’s what I did yesterday. When I started to put them back up after the meeting, I noticed one of them had a damaged corner as if it had been dropped on a hard surface at some time. It looked like a few small pieces would drop off at any point so I figured I’d go ahead and remove them. Not as easy as I expected: the pieces were held in place with heavy clear plastic. No one had ever removed the protective shipping film.

Just in case you’ve wondered: plastic film does not make a good dry erase surface.

My good friend and colleague Eddie was in my good friend and colleague Janice’s office which is conveniently located near my office. So I had him help me strip off the plastic film. After a few years of close association, a rather strong bond had developed between the film and its substrate. I held the board firmly and had Eddie pull the film. We looked like two corporate types settling a dispute with an old fashioned tug-of-war. Or like we were skinning albino roadkill. In spite of convulsive laughter, Janice managed to record the farce using her phone’s video function.

Sometimes things turn comical when we some past oversight comes to light. Sometimes not so much. In this case, we all had a good laugh. After we’ve rested a few more days, we’ll tackle removing the film from the other panel.

I think I’m going to start calling my whiteboard cabinet the “Almost Converted Discussion Center.” I’ve seen a few people over the years that appeared to have had their “Come to Jesus” moment. Some while later, though, whether weeks, months or years, it turned out that film of self and stubbornness had never been peeled off of their heart.

Until that happens, the heart can never be the fountain of hope and healing, of mercy and compassion, of faith and purity that its Designer intended. Until then, it is the writing of the world that will be recorded, not only on its surface but on its deepest parts as well.

H. Arnett
1/10/17

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About Doc Arnett

Native of southwestern Kentucky currently living in Blair, Kansas, with my wife of twenty-five years, Randa. We have, between us, eight children and twenty-one grandkids. We enjoy singing, worship, remodeling and travel.
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