That’s a model of my church made by my Granddad. I can’t state this with any great certainty, but I believe he used scrap wood; I have childhood memories of him working on it, and upon its completion he was justifiably proud. Life takes its inevitable course, and now the model has passed into my possession; a memory of my grandparents, of course, but it’s also coming to mean something more.
Both my father and grandfather were carpenters by trade; in contrast I’m an office dweller. I don’t carry on the family tradition of being able to turn pieces of wood into miniture churches, and there’s a part of me that almost regrets breaking that continuity. It’s not a huge regret – I’m the person I am, and that means I work with words and numbers and computers instead – but all the same, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t wish I’d inherited those skills.
There’s a guy in the Bible, Bezalel. From what I can tell (and please correct me if I’m wrong), he’s the first person directly said to have been blessed and annointed by the Spirit of God, and here’s the thing: he’s not a prophet or a priest, he’s a craftsman, an artisan. He’s the guy responsible for building and furnishing the Tabernacle, a hugely important job as this was to be the house of God on Earth. It’s a slightly obscure but significant bit of the Bible: God the Creator gives Bezalel the gift of creativity. Like my Dad and Granddad this was a practical, tactile creativity, expressed through wood and stone and metal and fabrics. In a sense Bezalel’s legacy extends to all those craftsmen who came after him, and even to those whose creativity is expressed in less tangible forms – poetry, song, music, story, dance.
I’d like to be able to claim this legacy of creativity, but it can be frustrating sometimes; I’ve been blogging for a long time now and it’s depressing to read my stats page at times, and let’s face it, creativity is one of the first qualities to get buried under the stresses and busyness of day-to-day life.
But looking at that model church reminds me that creativity is important, even if it’s a different creativity to that practiced by your forefathers. Heck, I’ve just remembered that, during his childhood, my Dad was a decent artist, sitting down to draw intricate pictures of birds. I don’t remember him doing that as an adult, and that’s a shame; I guess I don’t want to get to a point in my life where I look back and realise I didn’t write as much as I could. I’m not saying I’m particularly good at it, but it’s something I love.
I guess the last word on this could go to Florence Foster Jenkins, who had a good attitude towards this sort of thing:
“People may say I can’t sing, but no-one can ever say I didn’t sing…”