We have a bird feeder in our backyard that has been around about as long as I have. So it got to where it looked like this...
You can't tell in the picture, but it got to where it's held together with string and all that.
For mother's day, my dad had the idea that we could take it to a church member's workshop and fix it up. I've been to this workshop two times before. The first was in sixth grade when I was building a huge rat maze for the science fair. The second was for high school youth group when Doug (the church member) helped us design and construct little alters to keep at home. Even though my ideas always end up more elaborate than what I can actually build, each time has been memorable to me.
This time made me think about the spiritual gift of craftsmanship...how many spiritual gifts discussions include it and how I've seen so little of it in action. Doug's workshop is a collection of a bazillion little odds and ends...random nuts and bolts, hinges, rare African woods...anything you could need to build anything. And there's something different about the entire place...not that I've been in too many workshops, but this one is a real spiritual place.
Even though we were repairing a bird feeder for my mom, Doug had set up a project for me to make a new bird feeder too. It's made out of the plastic container some Venetian blinds were in, four chopsticks, a Wyoming license plate and a few more wood parts. It was super easy to put together...just drilling holes, using a nail gun, a sander. But it reminded me of the little bedside table I made in Tokyo...that was just a board that I painted, but putting a coat of red on that board would light up my whole day.
(I was fascinated also when I brought my guitar into the Christian music store to get repaired. The man working on it was blind. He proclaimed, "Let me see your guitar!" and then laughed and said, "Well, that's an oxymoron for a blind guy." I liked him immediately. I watched him tinker around with it...he fixed the peg and by touch could tell that the neck wasn't quite in alignment, and with a couple screws he made my guitar play better than it ever has. And I found myself wondering how many years it would take me to learn how to make something like a guitar from scratch. Haha. Yep...I'm still on vacation with no vision.)
But anyway...back to Doug's workshop...we fixed up my family's bird feeder. In the end, we left almost all the outer parts, but we took the whole thing apart and strengthened it. It was straighter and everything. When we were done, Doug asked if anyone had a blessing for it. I was thinking...yeah...it's a bird feeder. I'll do blessings for a lot of things...but not bird feeders.
But he got out a candle and set it in front of the bird feeder. We were silent for a few moments. Doug and my dad prayed. And Doug started talking about how this bird feeder reminded him of our church. They're in the middle of doing Natural Church Development, and they were told their weakest aspect was passionate spirituality. So, right now, they're looking at how to grow in that.
As he talked about how we had revamped the whole bird feeder but we had kept the old, beautiful parts, and how that was like our church right now, I felt as though the Holy Spirit had just dropped down on us. It wasn't his words, so to speak...just one of those times that feels very sacred. I was holding back tears at the beauty of the whole experience as we said goodbye to Doug.
It's so funny how God keeps answering the heart cry of, "Where can I go and be with God?". The places haven't been anywhere I would think to look for him...I usually look for churches, not workshops or international student houses. It's also notable that none of these places are places I can return to...they're "rest stops" on the way to somewhere else...somewhere to get a drink of water before the journey continues. And I am incredibly thankful for the gift.