Faith Column When we first meet someone, we're often taken by their accomplishments, the way they dress or speak or even the way they enter a room. Rarely though, do we consider the forces of life and nature which made them this way. Similarly, when we see the beauty – or even the desolation – in nature, we rarely consider the long-term change or forces by which it was created. Consider for a moment the steep, multifaceted walls, stunning colors and sheer magnitude of the Grand Canyon.

For as much beauty as it offers any beholder, it has obviously made it through a very violent past. It is living to tell the story of ice and raging waters, wind and time, which have made it the breathtaking beauty we see today. As humans, though our experiences alone do not define us, we are surely shaped, to various extents, by the waters of experience that have flowed through us, and maybe more so by our responses to them. Every one of us has a past. Measured in hours, days or years, the events of our lifetime have gradually developed us into what others see today. Our tendency is to see objects we consider beautiful without any consideration for the process of its creation. I enjoy giving gifts to family and friends that extend from one of my many hobbies (many, because I am 'blessed' with a short attention span). One of the hobbies I particularly enjoy is woodworking.

Rather than furniture or items that require great precision levels, I prefer to make small things where the appreciation value comes from their uniqueness. If I really dug into my psyche, I'd probably discover that this actually comes from a sense of inadequacy and that unique, one-of-a-kind gifts leave less room for judgment. But more than that, I believe there can even be a somewhat redemptive quality to woodworking. One year I wanted to do something special for the people I work with at Christmas and decided to make wooden Christmas ornaments. I first pulled a few pieces of firewood from the stack near the edge of our property. After cleaning them up, I began shaping them into rectangles about eight inches long and three to four inches across. After some preparation, I secured each piece on a lathe, which causes the wood to spin at rotations up to thousands of revolutions per minute. At first, they wobble. So, I spin them a little more slowly and introduce a large chisel to take off the rough edges, causing them to be unbalanced.

As the wood becomes a little more stable, I can increase the speed and use smaller chisels to begin the process of refining and shaping each piece into a definable shape. Eventually, I'm able to use sandpaper to make the newly formed shape smooth to the touch. This is us. This is the Grand Canyon. We are, over time, shaped with cuts both deep and shallow at the hands of a Creator. And just as one can see the beauty in one, or the wonder in another, so is the beauty of our uniqueness. We have all lived a story worth telling, and when we do, we can point people back to the Creator, who had a plan from the beginning of it all.

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