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42
Hands On
STORIES ABOUT IMITATING A CREATIVE GOD AND FINDING BEAUTY IN THE CREATION PROCESS
STORIES ABOUT IMITATING A CREATIVE GOD AND FINDING BEAUTY IN THE CREATION PROCESS
Unaccustomed to Beauty

THE FIRST WARNING SIGN should have been the label attached to the solid wood tabletop I was planning to use for my desk: "Should be treated with BEHANDLA wood treatment oil for indoor use prior to usage."

People, Borne of Poetry

AS A POET whose inner circle consists mostly of non-poets, I field a lot of questions. Poets know to expect questions. We also know to expect that a lot of these questions will come paired with unsolicited assertions about poetry. Statements such as "I don’t read poetry" or "I don’t understand poetry".

Replenish and Repeat
Growing Neurons in a Petri Dish

WHEN NATE AND HIS BROTHERS were placed into my care, I gave them instructions on how to live in their new home and kept them in a plastic container for a week. Eventually, I moved Nate’s little family to a better home — a carefully cleaned and treated glass environment that I had custom-prepared for them.

This Chair is For You

THE SWEETHEART TABLE is fashioned just the way it was envisioned and the altar is made in eager expectation. Each carefully arranged table setting saves a place for one. Like the air around freshly fallen snow, it’s quiet.

Bugs and How to Embrace Them

MY INTRODUCTION to the world of programming was comically accidental. Every Thursday afternoon, my fourth grade teacher Mrs. Keach would allow me and my fellow classmates to use the computers for an hour.

Me, Myself, and My Pencils

GRACE SAT AT HER DESK with a clean sheet of paper, the blank sheet beckoning her to begin the process of creating. Placed to the right of the paper were five colored pencils — all the materials she would use for this session.

Crafting Problems on a Wall

ARTISANS PICK UP a trade and make products for other people. But my craft goes beyond the tangible product and invites you into an experience — bouldering is climbing without ropes — so I like to think of myself as an artisan of movement.

Playing the Sin Card

MY FAVORITE TYPES of games are the ones that teach life lessons — but you don't even realize it, because you're too busy having fun. "Monopoly" teaches you the true value of money, that being rich isn’t worth it if everyone hates you in the end.

Bringing Beauty into Our Lives

AS A NEWLYWED COUPLE, my wife and I began our journey with very little. Judy and I got married after college in the summer of 1983, and moved to Connecticut for Judy to pursue her master’s degree in marriage counseling.

THE FIRST WARNING SIGN should have been the label attached to the solid wood tabletop I was planning to use for my desk: "Should be treated with BEHANDLA wood treatment oil for indoor use prior to usage."

The second warning should have been the label on the back of the BEHANDLA wood treatment oil: "Sand the surfaces using fine-grained sandpaper. Brush clean. For a more even result, moisten the surfaces and leave for two hours before sanding."

My first foray into working with untreated solid wood — beech, for those who are wondering — wasn't exactly the glorified hipster DIY project I imagined. I was overeager and underprepared, and it showed in my process.

So there I was, four hours later, drenched in sweat from hand sanding this 5-by-2.5-foot piece of wood with only one sheet of sandpaper, corners folded and tucked to prolong its usefulness.

As I wrestled with competing ideas of giving up and knowing that I was beyond the point of return, it occurred to me that I was enjoying myself. There was a strange joy in finding a rough spot in the wood, rhythmically sanding it over, and then blowing and brushing the dust away to reveal the smooth wood underneath.

Dare I say, the experience was spiritual. I felt an unexpected closeness to God, and not just because Jesus's occupation was carpentry before His time of ministry. Each grating of aluminum oxide against the wood grains was a reminder of how God slowly and patiently works to smooth out the rough spots in my life and character. He continues to do so today.

There is a certain intimacy in a God who forms us out of dust, spits into the ground, and whispers with a still, small voice. These aren't mere methods of getting things done, but point to aspects of beauty in small and deliberate acts.

These aren’t mere methods of getting things done, but point to aspects of beauty in small and deliberate acts.

When we engage in work — however that looks like for each individual — we're representing the creative attributes of God. We create because God is the Creator.

In "Hands On", we wonder how the things we do point to beautiful aspects of God. For many of us, that's a lens we never consider for our work. We work because it provides money and food for ourselves and our families. We work because we have to. We work because that's the only life we've ever known.

We don't often stop to think that our work reflects how beautiful God is. How our work shapes worlds and creates order out of chaos. How it restores and renews.

We don’t often stop to think that our work reflects how beautiful God is.

Rather than reducing creativity and wonder to just occasional feel-good moments, we should be valuing it as an active practice in our lives. This is a start to that conversation.

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