Sunday, June 17, 2012


My brother James carves wood, literally.  
He works the rough grain with knife and chisel and turns a blank slab into something unbelievable.

We had dear friends for dinner some evenings ago, shared chili and cornbread, then upside-down plum cake and poetry.  Afterwards, the twilight waiting behind the dusk, we walked to the wood shop to see James's latest project.

He is building a table, a sort of of altar table, for a Methodist worship conference. He designed it himself, a table with two sturdy, yet graceful, legs supporting an expanse of hand scraped surface.  The table comes apart, to be assembled and reassembled, and is fastened together with detailed mortar and tendon, a table with no metal, only warm, brown wood.  It is as if an ancient carpenter had taken a thick tree from the earth and shaped it with medieval tools and skillful hands.  The table is clean, and pure, a masterpiece of careful craftsmanship.

(Below is the completed projected.  Pretty stunning, right?)

The sun hung low, pressed against the horizon, when we left the building scented with wood.  The evening, still but for the clicking of crickets, met us with peace.

There is such a goodness in this changing of seasons, this refreshing of old memories, and this chance at new beginnings, this circle that wraps up our lives.  The circle brings us back, to where we were, shows us how we've changed, how old things are no more, and awes us with God's faithfulness.

Here I am, in another summer, watching my little siblings carouse about the yard in the glee of childhood, feeling the weight of new responsibilities, the crowded, unavoidable business of this time of year, yet stilled by the weight of quiet.  Summer, with its stifling heat, its long days of labor in a sweltering kitchen, heat cooled by sudden and furious rains, has a stillness to it, a stillness that pulls me from the kitchen, in the quiet of evening, to the sunset in the night air, echoes of childish laughter on the gray night breeze.

And I find, in that stillness, a place to pause and press my heart up against my soul, to listen to the beat I know so well, remember my own childhood, my old dreams and old passions.  They are still there, under my adult skin, wound tightly, balled up in my throat.  Write.   They say.  Write about everything. Write about life, its goodness, and its grief.

Adulthood does come.  We do move on.  But in our moving on, our childhood clings to our quickening feet, clamoring to be remembered, to be carried with us.  The seasons, with the warmth of memory, remind us of what we've left behind, carry us full circle, and offer us a moment, like an hour on the round path of a clock face, to start again, to remember, and to reflect.

May I offer you a blessing?  That this summer, as the heat pushes up against you, and your lives are filled and full, that your heart will come full circle, and our Father's grace, and faithfulness, will awe you and inspire you, and grant you peace.

- Emma Pearl - 


SisterlyLove said...

Love how you put feelings into words so beautifully.

That table is so beautiful! What an accomplishment!


Anonymous said...

How lovely these words and pictures are! Truly!