I have been working on a project for the last month or so: evolving a rough piece of soapstone into a clock for a silent auction that will benefit CASA Partners (see website below for more info). This is my first real attempt at soapstone carving. The results are yet to be determined. But I’m not too worried. Even though I am NOT an artist, I love the cathartic peace that always comes when I am in the process of “coloring”, my term for any act that involves total focus on helping bring something into the world that wasn’t there before. The results don’t matter so much as the experience during the act. There is no risk that it will go wrong. It can’t because there are no expectations except to make with all my heart and soul.
Do you remember when you were five and colored just for the sake of coloring? Total absorption in the act of making a picture.
Who knew we were so good at meditating when we were five? But see, we knew better then how to be completely in the moment.
I wish I could go back and hear what was in my brain when I was five and coloring. Did the Holy Spirit, the universe, angels and ghosts whisper in my ear then like they do now when I am in the act of making? I think so. I just didn’t question as much then. Funny how I can hear the whispers so clearly when I am using power tools!
Soapstone is fascinating to work with. It has been used for thousands of years for carving because it is very soft, containing a large quantity of talc. Remember the Mohs scale from school? It is a method of comparing hardness of minerals by seeing how easily they can scratch each other. Talc is a 1 the softest. The type of soapstone used for carving contains about 80% talc and has a Mohs rating of about a 2.5.
AND soapstone is a metamorphic rock!
That being said here is a vocabulary lesson (because I am going to get to something with this, from the whisperers today, in the dust, who helped sort out a few things).
All of this is either from Wikipedia or my old Webster’s dictionary from 1988 depending on which definition I liked better.
metamorphic: of or relating to metamorphism
metamorphism: a change in the constitution of a rock, specifically a pronounced change effected by pressure, heat and water that results in a more compact and more highly crystalline condition
metamorphosis: a change of physical form, structure or substance especially by supernatural means
meta: Greek word meaning “after” or “beyond”
morph: to gradually change into another thing usually in a way that is surprising or seems magical
Working on my project today, I had this sense that I wasn’t so much forcing this piece of rock into a shape I wanted it to be but more discovering what shape IT wanted or needed to be and helping it along, uncovering and gently discovering its shades of rust, green, gold, and delicious variations of brown. You can’t force soapstone too hard or it will break and then you are faced with accepting a result that might not have been your original vision because you didn’t see where the rock’s weakness was until it was too late. But a break can often create a result that is stronger and more stable than before. So there is that.
My delight from taking part in the metamorphosis of this bumpy, rough rock, watching it magically turn into something completely different, has not thus far diminished despite getting covered in dust, accidently sanding a hole in my wrist with the dremel tool (because I sure as hell would not do that ON purpose) (I could have almost DIED!) and hammering my knuckles countless times.
In fact, all of the whispers I heard today through the dust and pain gifted me a slight glimpse of how God must feel watching us all, His lovely creations evolving and changing, each going through our own metamorphosis during our time on earth. Does He smile with delight when our colors are gently uncovered by His angels, ghosts, and dear friends who are able to see below our rough surfaces to our rich, colorful veins? Does He weep with us when chunks of ourselves are painfully broken off, an unintended and often brutal result of our and others’ free will? Does He sigh in relief and pleasure when our jagged edges are smoothed, loved and soothed when our hearts are opened up (often with the gentle prodding of those He sends) to the idea that the break may be just what we needed to take on our next delightful shape.
There is such magic in the making and morphing that happens in our world, yes?
Written today with S.H.O.T.T.R. in my heart. You know who you are my dearests!
Find out about “Make Time for Kids” and other events that support Casa Partners: http://www.casapartners.org/