My hands ache.
I am acutely aware of the weight and shape of every bone in my hand.
I can feel the tendons stretching and relaxing as my fingertips dance over the keyboard to write these words. The movements, subtle though there are, carry their own slight discomfort to the pain centers of my brain.
The tenderness is unfamiliar, and irritating, and strangely welcome.
It means that I’ve actually been working.
These posts, in my Sacred Space series, are supposed to chronicle my efforts at building a small private temple on my property.
The tree, which I mean to carve, stands untouched. The ground where the fire pit will eventually go, the fountain and small reflecting pool, the spiral walkways…,
It’s all still a grassy patch of nothing in particular.
The plans are there, but the time, and the will to begin, remain elusive.
I took half of the month of May away from my job.
Beltane was celebrated with fire and feast and a flurry of creative exertion, as I broke ground on a new workshop in the backyard.
There was digging, and then backfilling, and leveling. Lumber and nails were unloaded and then transformed into floor and walls, and eventually many-jointed trusses arched overhead like the bones of some terrible beast.
I took a break from my job to do work, to build a place where I hope to do even more work.
And that probably seems just a little insane, in a world where vacation time is ideally spent in some sort of leisure activity – or even better, inactivity.
But while the job I go to every day puts bread on the table, it lacks true satisfaction. I spend most of my time creating nothing, adding nothing of substance to the sum of my time on this planet. I find, instead, that true satisfaction comes about when channeling an idea through the body and forcing it to take shape in the material world.
So I haven’t built my temple yet, but my workshop is almost done.
And maybe that’s not so bad, because I think a workshop is a sacred space in its own right.
The stories that my ancestors have passed down, about the gods we worship, tell us that they were not only masters of warfare, and magic, and healing. The greatest of the gods, the ones who were heroes among their own immortal folk, were the masters of every art and craft.
At the woodworking bench, at the forge, at the loom and the wheel, wielding hammer and saw, and torch and trowel…, through hand and heart the very energy of creation is focused in the places where we make the things that will last beyond our fleeting lives.
We reshape the world in our image.
How better to honor the gods of our fathers?
My hands ache – and that is as it should be.
A hammer is scarred by every nail it strikes.
That is the sacrifice we make to change the world.
Even the bones in our hands can be a sacred space!
Lace your fingers together.
Do you remember the rhyme?
“Here is the church…here is the steeple…,”
This is the eleventh post in this wandering series, following the thoughts, planning and eventual construction of a small temple space on my property. If you wish to follow along, you may see other posts in this series by clicking here.