I know I’m not alone in enjoying a good hunt for antiques – or “rusty junk”, as FarmerHoney calls it. Last Friday, I went to my first auction just over North Mountain in Franklin, at a neat little place called M&M Auction Service and Antiques Emporium. Now, I truly did not intend to purchase a thing. Really. But I finally caved!
A box of treasures was held up for inspection. I bid on it, because there was a Baldwin Brass candlestick in it. I think I can spot a Baldwin Brass candlestick at 20 yards. They’re not made anymore but I’ve found them in thrift stores and antique stores and online. Brass is a classic, and these are so well-made and fit in with my decor, if one might call how I decorate my single-wide “decor”, that I just find it hard to pass one up. Besides, I told myself (and FarmerHoney), I can sell it for more than what I paid for it. The winning bid was mine – $1.00. I saw the same candlestick on eBay the next morning for about $25.00.
But the real treasure for me turned out not to be the brass candlestick, nor any of the other items I brought home to renovate and sell. Tucked into the box was a small white crock, about 4 inches high, the one pictured above. I’d never seen one like it before. I turned it over and noticed the words impressed into the clay base, “Not Genuine Unless Bearing Wm. P. Hartley’s Label”. Thank goodness for the internet! I did some research the next day and learned that the unassuming little crock could fetch at least $22.00; one on eBay was listed for $38.00. Thank you, God!
But as someone who loves history, I decided to pursue my research. Who was this Hartley fellow and when did he make his jam?
William Pickles Hartley (Pickles was his mother’s maiden name) was only a lad of 14 when he left school to work in his mother’s grocery store in Colne, Lancashire (England). Two years later, he began his own grocery business and in 1871, when he was just 25, he started the jam business when his supplier was unable to fulfill his contract.
Now in England in 1871, the sugar duty (tax) had just been halved the year before and people from more walks of life were enjoying sweeter foods and beverages. In 1874 – 3 years after William Hartley began his jam business – the sugar duty was abolished. What timing! With sugar prices falling, jam business picked up even more and that same year, Hartley moved his jam production to a new factory in Bootle.
William Hartley was a very successful businessman, perhaps because he lived by the Golden Rule. To reward employees, he introduced an early profit-sharing plan. He built dining halls, one for men and one for women. He created a little village for employees at Aintree. And on January 1, 1977, he vowed to give a specific proportion of his income for charitable and philanthropic purposes.
But the one thing about this man that I find most delightful is his faith. I’m not talking about the devout institutional type of faith, though he was a Primitive Methodist. Sir William Hartley practiced what he preached. I think his message as Vice-President of the Primitive Methodist Conference in 1892 would be an inspiration to Pope Francis today:
“I am not one of those who are much troubled as to creed; but I am much exercised as to whether I am such a disciple of Jesus Christ that my work people, my business friends, my neighbours, and my family can constantly see the spirit and temper of the Master in my actions.”
“My own opinion is that for thirty-five years (this being the time of my recollection) we have listened to too many doctrinal and theological sermons and too few as to the absolute importance of living Christlike lives; and unless we be actually miniature Christs day by day, breathing His spirit and living His life, it matters not what we believe, for our religion is a sham. Our actual creed is what we put into practice, and no more; and we want to be careful to see that our practice is equal to our creed.”
Pope Francis has always struck me as a man of great love – love for God and love for all of God’s creatures. Sir William Hartley appears to have also shown great love for God and His creation.
As a Secular Franciscan, I try to walk with Jesus each day and do what He would have me do. Some days it’s pretty easy – like yesterday, when I was out with our dog hunting for wildflowers and morel mushrooms. Who could deny God in the presence of the West Virginia wilderness?
Other days, it’s tough to be a follower of Jesus Christ. In the last year, I have advocated three times in three different situations for three different people, one related and two unrelated. Each time, I felt it was absolutely essential to do what I did and each time, I knew before I made a step that the fallout would not be pretty.
In every case, I bore the brunt of criticism and condemnation for trying to speak up for those who lacked a voice. I’d do it again if need be. I know that. I’ve done it before. I just need to learn how to continue doing the work God’s asking of me while at the same time protecting myself from the hurt and depression that comes my way as a result. I have Bipolar Disorder II, and conflict and confrontation can send me into a deep depression. I can become suicidal and I’d really prefer to avoid situations that trigger such awful feelings!
Learning about Sir William Hartley’s close walk as a disciple of the Lord brings me great peace. In his time, he exhorted his fellow Christians to be more Christ-like, to pay less attention to the trappings of the church. Pope Francis is doing the same thing today – he truly is rebuilding the Church just as his namesake did centuries ago.
I’m sure each man had and has his detractors. I’m not one of them. Jesus brought us God’s message of love. It’s simple, yet hard to implement at the same time. St. Francis of Assisi understood that message and lived that message – love your fellow creatures of God. These men – Jesus, St. Francis, Sir William Hartley, and Pope Francis – must be able to do this successfully because they lean so heavily on God; their relationships with their Creator were and are far stronger than my own.
There’s a lesson to be learned from all this…
When I’m in a jam, lean harder on God.