The Box - Salvation Army Canada
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    The Box

    Retrospective #51 November 13, 2017 Randy C. Hicks
    What might Booth choose?
    What might Booth choose?

    Those of us accustomed to moving are certainly aware of the fact that packing-boxes come in a variety of shapes and sizes. We also know that one should take care as to how you fill each box; from the perspectives of size and weight; so as to keep each manageable while maximising its full potential. Then, of course, comes the labelling. Usually one sets out to go from room to room placing the contents of each room in boxes that will then be given names so that when it comes time to unpack – there is no confusion. Well, that’s the general idea; however, I always end up “filling” boxes with items from all over the house in order to avail of the remaining space and complete the job before closing and sealing them. This sometimes means a wee bit of a headache for those with the job of unpacking.

    Then as consumers, we realize that boxes contain a variety of products which are clearly identifiable by the information/picture on the cover. That’s one of the reasons we wrap gifts – to hide the contents – hoping by doing so to create an air of mystery, suspense, and then surprise!

    I remember a Russian comedian telling about his first grocery shopping experience after arriving in the United States (what follows may not be exactly what he said but it’s close enough for you to get the gist of it):

    Accompanied by an American friend he told how he was completely overwhelmed at the variety of products available and of all the new innovations in food. Picking up a package he asked his friend, “What does this mean – Instant Potatoes?” His friend replied “It’s potatoes in powder form. You just add the specified amount of water and – you get potatoes!” Again while browsing, he picked up a box of Instant Pudding – and asked the same question. His friend responded – “Just like the potatoes, add the liquid – get the pudding!” For a moment he and his buddy were separated until his pal heard him scream in the next aisle, followed by a thump, and then silence. Rushing to the rescue, he found his visitor had fainted, in his hand he was tightly gripping a container marked – BABY POWDER!

    Imagine my surprise when, while rummaging through our collection, I found a small box with a picture of the founder William Booth on the cover! What might it contain? I ran to get the water! (I’m kidding! Relax.) I picked it up, I shook it, no sound, I smelled it, no smell (other than a paper/cardboard essence), and so I dared to open it. There it was! Just as I suspected! – Nothing! It was empty! Upon looking up the museum record relative to it, it simply read “An empty box with a picture of William Booth on it.”

    For a few minutes my imagination glowed with possibilities. Had the box once contained candy, chocolates, handkerchiefs, or note paper? Maybe it held ‘Bible Tracts’ or ‘Promise Cards’ - whatever the case, it now sits in a drawer in our archives with nothing inside it.

    Then I got to thinking, what if we say, figuratively, the box represents Booth’s legacy – The Salvation Army - now to open “a can of worms!” I mean, box! I say this because no two of us will have the same list of contents, so here goes – What do you think we ought to place in the box?

    Maybe there are those who would fill it only with things from the past.

    Maybe there are others who would choose only current elements.

    Maybe there are those who would fill it with dreams of the future.

    Maybe there are those who might choose from all three former lists as well as throwing in some stuff taken from other boxes!

    Maybe there might even be those who would suggest we get a new box all together!

    And finally – maybe there are some who might simply say – get rid of the box – we don’t need it anymore.

    Shalom.

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