Wedding rings, Cupid with his bow and arrows, roses—red for romantic love, yellow for friendship—love knots and friendship bracelets, swans or doves: these are just some of the traditional symbols of love, romance, marriage, and affection.
An Unexpected GiftIn early August, a bit worn down from caring for grandchildren while my West Virginia son and his wife were bringing a little boy into the world to join the clan, I returned home and found a medium-sized package, light as gossamer and with a return address unknown to me. Inside was another box, darkly stained on one side. After cutting open that box, I found an oil can with a message attached by a piece of brown twine.
Instantly, I was swept back into that scene in the 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz” in which the Scarecrow and Dorothy use just such a device to loosen up the rusted hinges of the Tin Man. It's silver in color, with an inkwell-shaped base and a long thin pipe for the delivery of oil. One pumps the bottom of the can, just as in the movie, and out comes the oil.
The NoteThe note tied to the can deserves to be quoted in full:
The Significance of an Oil Can
Growing up in a Christian home, in a farming community, I learned many life lessons that I have strived to embrace. This simple oil can is symbolic of the power of love.
Let me explain: Before heading out into the fields with a piece of important machinery, Dad impressed upon my brothers and me the importance of lubricating the metal parts to reduce the friction, and subsequent wear. Iron and steel can be easily worn and broken by not lubricating regularly. Consequently, we were reminded to oil and grease all the moving parts. We most certainly knew the value of the oil and the can that contained it.
Relationships are like that: We need to constantly “oil” them to keep them running smoothly. I personally believe that oil is synonymous with love. Our Christian teaching reminds us that God loves us, and we are to love our neighbor, as we love ourselves.
That being said: My purpose of giving you an oil can from my collection that I have acquired over my many years of antiquing is to remind you that love, like oil, will prevent friction from harming your many valued relationships.
Thank you for helping me to celebrate this milestone in my life.
The LetterWhy a Ted Leipprandt from Pigeon, Michigan, had sent me an oil can with its message of love and relationships at first baffled me.
Fortunately, Mr. Leipprandt (pronounced lie-prandt) enclosed a long letter explaining everything. In the first paragraph, he told me how much he had enjoyed some of my articles in The Epoch Times and the paper itself.
In the following two paragraphs, Mr. Leipprandt offered some personal information. He and his wife, Peg, a native of Georgia whom he met while in the Army, have been married 67 years. They raised three sons and a daughter, and have 15 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
He recently celebrated his 90th birthday, which was the milestone in his life, an event attended by more than 150 family members and friends, hailing from states as far away as South Carolina and California. Others were local folks from Rotary, coffee groups, and church.
Life Lessons From Mr. LeipprandtBy his gift and his letter, Mr. Leipprandt offered me, and the rest of us as well, some valuable lessons about living.
The Gift Spreads Its MessageToday, the Leipprandt oil can occupies a place of honor on a low bookshelf in my den. The shelf rises only to my waist and so allows even children to see the device once used to keep machinery running. Already one of my grandchildren asked me about its function, and a visiting adult picked up the can, read the note, and opened a conversation about love.
Ted Leipprandt’s oil can may never replace the hearts and roses on Valentine’s Day, but as a symbol of love, it more than meets the criteria of truth, beauty, and goodness.