Sunday, January 9, 2011

Trying My Hand

They were skeptics, and rightfully so. Five years ago, my wife’s brothers had stopped by for a visit and I showed them my most recent project. By the somewhat veiled expressions on their faces, I could tell that they weren’t sure what to make of it. I was confidently amused.

Downstairs, the walls of the small workroom in our house were canvassed with life-size sketches and photographs. A table was positioned in the middle of the room to make working easier. On top sat a small sheet of particle board with a mound of clay that, to some, resembled an alien. “Hmm,” their eyes whispered sideways. “That’s really something.”

Ten hours into my work, I looked at the vague shape of clay that would eventually take me just over fifty to complete. I had never done a sculpture like this one before, and only had a vague sense of where I would go next. Whether or not I actually got there mattered less at that moment. I felt I had to try.

The process was beautiful. Each gesture of my hands made a subtle refinement. The sensory feeling of clay giving way to my fingers pulled me into the sculpture. Carefully I studied the sketches and photos of my model from every angle. I checked proportions and made adjustments. With every lift, push, and expression, the abstract form began to take life.

I savored the last ten hours of sculpting. By that point, the clay no longer looked unrecognizable. There was an excitement of getting close, of realizing my purpose. The clay had its own meaning just waiting to speak. As the detail of each feature became clearer, a stronger resemblance to its intrinsic design, I felt great satisfaction. My work didn’t have to be perfect. It was mine, and I was pleased.

Afterward, I enjoyed sitting and looking at the form in front of me. I compared two notions. While the form felt like something I had made with my own hands, it also felt like a person that I merely rescued or liberated from the clay – it was a mixture of ability and opportunity.

Quite often I like to pray over my work. I try to express gratitude for opportunities that seem to be given to me. No man is an island, and all good things come from God. I also like to pray for insight on how to improve my work and make it better. When these prayers are answered, I feel that divine guidance is added to ability and opportunity. It is a simple yet wonderful gift to be taught by impressions from God.

As for the skeptics, they really weren’t disbelieving. They just didn’t see at first. My brothers had a different understanding when they returned a week later and saw the finished product.

So often in life, the tangible evidence in front of us may not accurately describe what our work can become. More faith, please. When I believe in my own ability to act, and God’s ability to provide assistance, it’s easier to attempt things I haven’t tried before. I may not know completely what I am doing, but my faith can make up the difference.

As I shape my own life, it is very reassuring to follow a good model. Minor adjustments may not always feel good when I am the clay being sculpted. Yet when I feel I am getting closer to the true meaning of my life, those adjustments become very rewarding. That happens when I remember the purpose of why I am here. The Savior Jesus Christ is my model. Every refinement I make that increases my resemblance to Him gives me satisfaction. I feel freer as I take his image into my countenance. I look forward to when I, with Him, can look back on my life and see what we sculpted together.

What I Believe…


Diony said...

Very inspiring!

John said...

Thanks, Diony. I'm glad you liked it.

This is not an official publication of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am solely responsible for the views expressed here.