Thursday, November 27, 2014


New work at Lucy's craft table
In the US, this is our Thanksgiving holiday, a time to gather with family and friends and remember to be thankful for our many gifts. I am thankful each day to have a wood shop and the opportunity to share skill and creative capacity with a new generation. Yesterday I invited my great niece from South Florida to join me in the wood shop to make tops, button toys and flip cars.

As a four year old, it was her first time to work with wood, her first time to play with a button toy and her first time to spin a top. I asked if she had any toy cars, but in a world of Barbie princesses, there have been no toy cars in sight. I'm not pointing out anything that is unusual in this. The artificial world is becoming a predominant feature on the cultural landscape, and unless we take some pleasure in introducing the making of real things, we will lose the human craftsmanship that built our civilization.

This last week was a difficult one. Ferguson, Missouri exploded in violence, and I am reminded of the essential role that craftsmanship plays in the human scheme of things. Many religions, including Hinduism, recognize the fine line between human constructive capacity and the power to destroy.  They call that capacity, Shiva. Black Elk had a vision of it, that led him on his path as a great teacher of the Sioux nation.

We fail our own nation by failing to engage children in fixing, making and their own creative inclinations, and the pent up frustration that comes from the failure to be involved in the basic functions of our humanity can build up to explosive levels. The craftsman and the destroyer are two edges of the same sword.

When we are engaged in craftsmanship, we invest ourselves in the making of beautiful and useful things, but also in the development of self.

It may be difficult for some, those who are academically or politically encumbered, to understand such things. But craftsmen may understand such things in ways that much of our world cannot, and it is our duty to explain a few things.

Make, fix and create...

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