The area served as a gathering place for elderly men to whittle away under the hot sun while “shooting the breeze” about anything and everything.
Local barber, Paxton “Pack” Tharp, could see the group of men from his shop and was concerned for their safety in the North Carolina summer heat. So Tharp had a tree planted to provide some much-needed shade.
A cedar tree originally had the honors but populars were also planted throughout the years. The trees were privy to many tall tales and perhaps heated debates throughout the years.
In its inaugural years, the Whittler’s Bench buzzed with the news and gossip surrounding the two Presidential candidates: Democrat William Jennings Bryan and Republican William McKinley. These two Wills ran for the Presidency in 1896 and again, in a rematch, in 1900. A battle of the “Wills” for two elections; great whittling-time fodder.
Throughout the decades, the men gathered and whittled during the good times and the very hard times.
The whittling men of Southport came with their misshaped pieces of wood and sharpened knives. The art of whittling is a carving process that involves repeatedly cutting away small pieces. They cut away the unnecessary; leaving only the necessary. They chipped away the ugly; revealing the beauty. Piece by piece, slice by slice. The discarded pieces fell to the sandy ground. They carved and created. They whittled.
Pausing at this landmark featuring the faded historical marker, a gray rustic bench and a bushy cedar tree, my heart cried out: Whittle me, Lord! I come as a very blemished and mangled vessel. I am in desperate need of the Master Whittler to cut, carve, and create. Cut away my arrogance; go as deep as needed. Slice off my negative and whiny attitude; it has to go! Remove my judgemental thoughts; toss them on the ground!
Chris Sligh’s words from “Empty Me” capture my whittling-needs list:
“Empty me of the selfishness inside, every vain ambition and the poison of my pride and any foolish thing my heart holds to. Lord, empty me of me so I can be filled with You.”
Lord, cut away with Your Loving Hands. I know it will hurt but I also know it is necessary. Shape and make me into Your new Creation. Less of me, more of You.
The Master Whittler hears my cries. He gathers me and begins the whittling process. As He works, He constantly reminds me how much He loves me and gently whispers, “See, I am making all things new!” Revelation 21:5 (TLB)
Let’s Walk Worthy!