Friday, July 30, 2010

The Woodcarver and the wood

If you read the "Woodcarver" (previous post) you are aware that the master carver did not go out and carve any piece of wood. 
There was a much deeper level of engagement with the 'object' of his work. One could almost say there was a 'life' relationship between him and the wood. 
It speaks volumes into a culture that would have been inclined to mass produce the object and fell a forest in the process. Whatever object we work with we ought to contemplate it in the wider sphere of things, its meaning for others, our relationship with it, the consequences of our actions and the like. (Words inspired by Parker J. Parmer, The Active Life) 

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Woodcarver - Ancient Poem

I have been reading the poem below and a commentary on it by Parker J. Palmer. 
It has a very important lesson about our 'work' and how it ought not be influenced by 
our pride, outside pressure and fear.  As Christian's we are also in need of examining 
our everyday work and how in tune we are in working with God and co-creating with others.

Khing, the master carver, made a bell stand
Of precious wood. When it was finished,
All who saw it were astounded. They said it must be
The work of spirits.
The Prince of Lu said to the master carver:
"What is your secret?"
Khing replied: "I am only a workman:
I have no secret. There is only this:
When I began to think about the work you commanded
I guarded my spirit, did not expend it
On trifles, that were not to the point.
I fasted in order to set
My heart at rest.
After three days fasting,
I had forgotten gain and success.
After five days
I had forgotten praise or criticism.
After seven days
I had forgotten my body
With all its limbs.
"By this time all thought of your Highness
And of the court had faded away.
All that might distract me from the work
Had vanished.
I was collected in the single thought
Of the bell stand.
"Then I went to the forest
To see the trees in their own natural state.
When the right tree appeared before my eyes,
The bell stand also appeared in it, clearly, beyond doubt.
All I had to do was to put forth my hand
and begin.
"If I had not met this particular tree
There would have been
No bell stand at all.
"What happened?
My own collected thought
Encountered the hidden potential in the wood;
From this live encounter came the work
Which you ascribe to the spirits."
        - Chuang Tzu
from The Way of Chuang Tzu by Thomas Merton)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

For those who tell stories

" A story must be told in such a way that it constitutes help in itself. My grandfather was lame. Once they asked him to tell a story about his teacher. And he related how his teacher used to hop and dance while he prayed. May grandfather rose as he spoke, and he was swept away by his story that he began to hop and dance to show how the master had done. From that hour he was cured of his lameness. That's how to tell a story." Martin Buber