I recently added a new table to the WCLN studios. Nothing fancy. It was crafted from rough and flawed pieces of walnut boards I picked up somewhere. I decided to leave many flaws untouched and even finish it with raw steel hairpin legs as a nod to my oldest son — an artist whose chosen media was metal, before passing not long ago. Seeing the table each day has caused to me think about what craftsmanship means to me in the first place.
Like many people I know, my life is busy. My calendar would be full of gatherings of all shape and form if I dared to keep one. In fact, not acting surprised when I'm reminded of a birthday, anniversary, dance recital or social gathering I should have remembered is something I've developed into almost an art form. And as much as my wife and I are able to participate, we do. But I love to retreat, too.
More often than not, a retreat for me doesn't mean a getaway to the beach or the beautiful North Carolina mountains. Instead, it's more likely to involve an invitation for the family dog to join me on the short walk to the workshop behind our house.
In that calm respite from the busyness of daily life, I create things. Sometimes I work in the quiet with just my thoughts, and other times, I'll turn the music up to drown them out. I work with a number of materials, but wood is easily my favorite medium. The wood in my shop is comprised largely of castoffs. From exotic hardwoods to common lumber, I gather small or otherwise insignificant pieces from industries that see no need for them. To others they are scraps — one step away from firewood — but to me, each piece is a treasure.
More than a hobby, woodworking has become a reflection of the life I've been given to live. Occasionally, I'll make something on commission, but I rarely sell what I create. The whole idea changes the game. Woodworking is about seeing the individual beauty and usefulness of each piece of wood — large or small — and starting a process of preserving, preparing and giving that piece a new purpose. In short, it's about redemption.
Without the grace and redemption I found in Jesus Christ, my life would be nothing. I was probably considered a castoff by many when Jesus found me, but he saw something useful and has been preparing and preserving me since 1981, and even in the times when I feel I have nothing to offer, He assures me there is a greater purpose for my life. For every life.