This Sunday we will consider yet another R word: reconciliation. So naturally, I was drawn to this wood sculpture called Peace. This was given to me as a going away gift from John Gaeddert, an exceptional man and artist of North Newton, KS.
I asked John to send me a description of this piece, and this is what I received:
A number of years ago…we had a wood-burning stove to heat the basement of our house. Occasionally we would buy a pickup load of wood from a farmer who farmed near the Little Arkansas River. One day as I put the axe to a log I was surprised that it was Black Walnut, and then awestruck when I saw how it had broken out. It was so amazing that I didn’t work on it for about two years, but keeping it around in the shop all that time. One day one side looked like a spearhead, and as I then carved on it noticed that the opposite side just might be shaped as a plowshare. Voila! Isaiah 2:4 (“They shall beat their swords into plowshares … nation shall not rise up against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”) By then, it was no longer a piece for the wood-burning stove. My search for a peace piece had happened.
What I love about this piece, about John, and about his reflection is that he didn’t give up on this piece or peace for that matter. In fact, he nurtured a spirit of amazement; he saw possibilities.
Our search for peace doesn’t always go like we hope, whether that is internal or external peace. Thank God for people like John, and other artists like him, who remain amazed despite it all, who discover possibilities in objects and situations that many of us would label as ruined or no good.