This woodcarving hangs above the hallway in our home. Quite often, guests inquire about what it means. Rather than directly translate, I tell them the painful but sweet short story behind it.
My wife’s maternal great-grandparents, the Hellings, lived in Germany. Opa Helling was a baker there. After having new mechanized equipment installed in the bakery, presumably an automated dough mixing machine, he called for his wife to come in to watch the new process.
As the machinery began, his wife bent over to get a closer look. As she did, her long hair fell down into the gears. Before anything could be done, horribly the machine pulled a large section of her scalp away. One can only imagine the horror of the joy and pride of that moment turning so quickly to pain and suffering.
Making matters worse, Oma Helling was a diabetic. Her wound never healed. For the rest of her life, she had a metal plate that covered the wound. In a family picture we have of her, she reminds us so much of Miriam’s grandmother and mom. She is looking down as she busily works with her hands, cleaning stems off turnip greens laying on her apron. Clearly she is wearing a wig to hide the disfigurement.
To comfort her mother following this tragic event, her daughter Elfrieda had this woodcarving made. “Alle Meine Quellen Sind in Dir” are the last words of Psalm 87, Oma Helling’s favorite Scripture verse. It means “All my springs are in You.”
The woodcarving hung in Miriam’s parent’s home for years. When they moved a few years ago, they gave it to us.
We watched first Miriam’s grandmother, then more recently her mother, display in their own generation a faith in the Lord like Oma Helling. Their lives showed that they were given these living waters at all times, but especially when trial and even death approached.
So to us, the woodcarving with its message is not only a reminder of the past. It is a call in our generation to drink from the only river that satisfies, and to bid our children – and indeed all those who come into our home – to do the same.