The Carpenter’s Masterpiece


a child's drawingMy older brother and sister were wonderful artists. By the time I reached the age of six or seven, I somehow knew that they were artists … and that I was not. Their artwork has progressed and so has mine. I have realized that my main form of artistic expression is words rather than pictures. But during a phase of experimenting with sketching, when I was 17 or so, I showed my mom my greatest masterpiece up to that point. She looked at it and smiled. “Do you remember when you used to cry because your brother and sister drew pictures you wished you could draw?”

She recalled a time that I wished I could draw something they had copied, and I couldn’t do it. I grew frustrated, crumpled a picture smudged with tears, and threw it away.

I don’t recall that incident. Probably a good thing. But I do remember looking up to them, their art. Wishing I could draw like that. I used the same paper, the same pencil colors and crayons. Why was their work so lovely when mine was so amateur?

I did not understand and stayed away from creativity for a long time. I put aside my art book and picked up a writing book instead … but only years later.

Of course, now I can see that many things take time to come to fruition. Even now I wouldn’t say that I see fruit, yet I know my passion lies in writing. And as an artist – at least of words – my greatest inspiration lies in other works of art. Music, most often; photos, drawings, dance – people choosing to express the depth of their soul through arts of various form and style.

I envision a sculptor, a painter, a builder, standing with bare, raw material before them, knowing what they want to create and that it will only be a matter of time before it is done. Perhaps they don’t know exactly what difficulties they will face in their building. Various things come into play – the weather for a house builder. They pray for the rain to stay away during certain stages of construction. The artist prays for inspiration, that their hands will be sure as they move.

But their material is in front of them and they are familiar with it. They know what they want to create and they are sure of themselves and their abilities. The painter does not grow frustrated with his brush, crack it in half, crumple up the paper and throw it away. The sculptor does not push aside the piece of wood when he is only half done. They know that with perseverance and time, their masterpiece will be complete.

I see a Carpenter who put aside His work of building simple piece of wood structures in order to work with His hands and heart to draw out the very souls of men.

It was then as it is now.

He sees the raw materials of our lives. He sees the laughter and the tears, the frustrations, the anger, the sorrows, the misunderstandings. The hopes and dreams that shattered and scattered. But He does not grow angry. His work is sure and steady, his hands adept. Perhaps the things with which He has to work – the souls of men, of you and me, are not always pliable in His hands.

Often we look up in misunderstanding and sorrow, in weariness at the moldings and the makings and cry out, “Why have you made me thus?” Still He continues to work the perfect work He knows His creation will become. For He makes everything beautiful in its time. We might ask for a little more color, for a greater variety of materials, for a bit of time outside the workshop … or a bit more time in the workshop when we are set aside to weather. Still His hands are steady and sure, His movements deft, His knowledge infinite of what He wants to accomplish within us – the works of His hands.

All creation declares what can be made, what we can become, if only we choose to stop and listen and believe in the works of His hands.

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Hope … He Will Come at Last


Frederick Buechner on Hope

I think it is hope that lies at our hearts and hope that finally brings us all here. Hope that in spite of all the devastating evidence to the contrary, the ground we stand on is holy ground because Christ walked here and walks here still. Hope that we are known, each one of us, by name, and that out of the burning moments of our lives he will call us by our names to the lives he would have us live and the selves he would have us become. Hope that into the secret grief and pain and bewilderment of each of us and of our world he will come at last to heal and to save. – Frederick Buechner

He will come, yes, and He has come. and that is why that ground on which we stand is holy. Why the people to whom we speak and with whom we interact every day are sacred. For all are made in His image, in the image of the one who did not give up on a fallen creation. In the image of the one who sacrificed the purest and sweetest and most wondrous thing — Himself — to redeem all things to Himself once more. To bring new life and joy by His love and promise to make all things new.

We are called on by hope. Not a nebulous, vague, and random hope. Not a hope that is mere wishful thinking. But hope that fires the imagination and fires the purpose. Hope that rests in the truth of a perfect Love that descended into the dark forests of this world to seek and save. To bring us Home again.

The Edge of a Moment


Thank you, God, for peace and beauty, for mornings that glimmer with the promise of something otherworldly. Something like peace. Thank You for mornings so bright they are almost too harsh to look upon for fear of hurting the eyes. Such mornings promise a day dawning brighter than anything that has been seen or known. A day that all will look upon and not have to squint or cower, but instead finally rejoice.

Thank You for the promise of Your return, which whispers on the edge of every lovely thing in nature, and every thing that is mixed with a little bit of unloveliness, a little bit of sorrow or pain. Like a rose bush with thorns.

Or even the birth of a child. So beautiful. So joyful. And so sad. More than the pain of birth, it stems from the knowledge that the child coming into life so fresh and new will be beset by pain and surrounded by so much that seeks to take away his true joy, and block his search of truth.

Bring children the joy of the silence and peace of a morning like this, the knowledge that You are with them, and they have nothing to fear. For life and beauty waits at the edges of every moment, almost too bright to look upon, yet bidding us to glance again. And to believe.

For their sakes, fill our hearts with that same mixture of joy and truth even in the midst of pain or vanity. So that we can share it with them with a whisper or a song, a word or a shout, a clasped hand as we gaze together upon a morning of blended beauty. Help us to keep our eyes on the beauty, on the light.

On You.

Almost Beyond Belief


Why do we tend to fear

Things we do not understand

Like love and God

And sometimes life itself

So big they are

So often out of hand

Throwing them aside is easier

Than taking a chance

Somehow

Beyond all knowing, I think

He cares

He understands

The questions, the fears

Even the choice, sometimes, to disbelieve

It’s hard, God knows

Only He knows just how hard

Life, and love, can be

Our hearts full of joy and pain

And loss and questions why

Sometimes

I think, almost beyond belief

He smiles, and loves

In spite of it all