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I subscribe to SmokingPipes.com‘s newsletter that publishes at least twice weekly. One of the folks usually writes a little article in addition to all the fresh pipes up on the site. One of the recent articles, written by Eric Squires, really caught my attention. In it, he admits to really just being pedantic, but it screamed of so much sense. Here’s the article:

Practicing Patience

Monday, July 18, 2016 by Eric Squires

I wasn’t in the room at the time, but evidently some others here around the office were discussing “things you need a pipe for.” That’s as in, things you just can’t do without a pipe accompanying you.

I have a pretty simple answer for that: nothing, short of smoking a pipe. Smoking a pipe is something I choose to do, as it is for anyone. I don’t need a pipe to fiddle around with something under the hood of my car, but I have at times chosen to have one clenched in my teeth or sitting on a fender anyway (as long as it was expected that whatever I was doing wasn’t going to leave my hands too tremendously filthy). I don’t need a pipe to go on a long walk along the shore at night, but I’d say I choose to have one with me at least half the time anyway. In theory I wouldn’t need a pipe to go fishing, but it would be nice sometimes – if I did fish. I don’t fish because it seems to me like a lot of expense and bother to justify going wading or canoeing. Wading with a pipe I’m not so keen on since it risks sinking the pipe if I fumble it. Canoeing with a pipe I’m a-okay with; little risk for the pipe, and should anyone fake-cough at me in the middle of a lake I can sink them.

It’s hard to pretend offense while accurately judging whether or not you can make it to shore before drowning; an important life lesson, or metaphor, or something.

What I do need a pipe for is smoking a pipe, and that’s enough for me. The act of smoking a pipe is itself a choice and a pleasure. Combined with other sources of satisfaction it can be an extra, while when combined with onerous chores it can be a mitigator of displeasure. What qualifies as onerous or pleasurable and whether we bring a pipe into it are choices, our choices – as they can only be. A pipe can’t make me need it; I can’t make myself need a pipe.

I am, in short, being pedantic. This as it happens is something I highly recommend a pipe for: a slow pace and a pipe in hand or clenched between the teeth can at least make for the most convincing illusion of wisdom and veracity. As it happens I suspect that this technique would also work very well for lying to children, as in, say, convincing young nieces or nephews to believe completely ridiculous stories about their mother. Not that I’ve ever done that mind you… yet. My sister’s youngest ones still aren’t quite old enough for that sort of thing to be as fully amusing as it could be.

Fortunately the choice to smoke a pipe (and the choice to stick with it) does tend to teach us a thing or two about patience.

I loved how he pointed out that pipe smoking is a choice. A lot of articles I had read on the topic before trying it agreed that smoking a pipe could be put down at any time. Some authors claimed to be able to put the hobby down for months at a time. After having picked up the pipe in 2013, I agree.

I love to lunt, especially with others. I will occasionally step outside on my own, but I definitely prefer it with other lunters. However, it doesn’t drive me. It doesn’t control me. I will sometimes go several weeks without smoking a pipe. Sometimes I will lunt several nights in a row. It varies. And while, like in the above article, I’d prefer to have my pipe along for certain ventures, I don’t need it. The only thing I need a pipe for is to smoke a pipe.

Yes, the title of this blog is With Pipe and Pen, and yes, C.S. Lewis said that some things can be understood better with a pipe in teeth, but a pipe is not needed. While I can spend time with the Lord with my pipe, I can (and more often do) spend time with Him without my pipe. Now, here’s the reality:

While I can spend time with the Lord without my pipe, I can’t smoke my pipe without the Lord.

While my pipe is on an as-wanted basis, Christ is on an always-needed basis. As with Paul, for to me, to live is Christ (Philippians 1:21). So, while I can do things and go places without my pipe, there really is nowhere to go and nothing to do without Christ. And that includes smoking a pipe.

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