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A lampworker’s meditation

Author’s note: I have taken up a new hobby. A friend introduced me to lampworking (using a torch to turn glass rods into beads). It has been a very spiritual experience, and I felt the need to write down some of my reflections.

I pick up the mandrel. Cold steel, straight and solid, it will be the core of the bead until the bead can stand on its own. It is the faith of the church that centers and supports. I coat it in clay. Fragile, weak but with purpose, it doesn’t distort the past, but yields to it, and when the time comes to allow the bead to be free, it gently crumbles away. It is the experiences that prepare us to be more than what we are.

Glass rods, a raw materiel of bead making.The glass rod is selected, not for what it is but for what it will be. The color and clarity are full of potential, but it must change from its brittle, breakable self into the beauty for which it is designed. The bead is in the glass rod, but it is not the glass rod. Providence knew my potential before I was formed and shaped.

The flame used in shaping the beads.The flame is lit. What can be so destructive can be creative. What can burn can also soften and shape. It can destroy; it can transform. But it must be patient. I have seen the flame shatter the unsuspecting glass, fragmenting it and denying it its purpose. The glass must warm slowly at first, wafting in the flame, gradually recognizing that it can let go of its stiffness and give up its stubborn rigidity. Only then will it start to glow, soften, flow into a new shape. It is now malleable in the hands of the Creator.

bead-in-progressThe molten glass is in transition. There is an intense fervor to its purpose. It feels the heat; it glows with an inner fire. It is free to become what it is meant to be. But freedom without direction can result in a formless blob. The glass cannot will itself to greatness. It must yield to the hand that is guiding and gently shaping it. It continues in patience as cycles of heating and cooling allow the evolution from what was to what will be.

beadThe bead in completion is not yet complete. Beauty is inherent, but its purpose is still evolving. Will it become a part of a necklace or bracelet, standing alone or in concert with others? Will it mark a memory or an occasion with its uniqueness? Will it become a rosary of prayer and praise? What was, what is, is never the end. The hand of Providence is never still.

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Marilyn Rausch

Marilyn Rausch

Marilyn Rausch, a Providence Associate since 2014, has been associated with the Sisters of Providence most of her life. She was educated by the sisters for 16 years and a member of the Congregation for nine. A retired family practice physician, Marilyn lives with her husband Mike in Indianapolis, Indiana. She spends her time with her five grandchildren, serving in various positions in her parish, and camping with a family camping organization (Family Campers and RVers).

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  1. Avatar S. Denise Wilkinson on September 24, 2015 at 9:27 am

    Marilyn – I loved this! The process is intriguing and the analogies are lovely.Thank you! Denise, SP

  2. Avatar Jeannie Smith on September 24, 2015 at 11:13 am

    Wow Marilyn!!! That was a truly insightful meditation. Who’da thunk you could get such beautiful life-lessons out of bead-making, but you sure did it more than well! what an inspiration you are 🙂

  3. Avatar Marybeth Rich on September 24, 2015 at 3:33 pm

    Oh I love this story!!! I am a jewelry designer (and a Guerin High graduate) and I love learning about those who make lampwork beads. Is there a place to purchase your art? I would love to use some in my designs.

  4. Avatar Paula Modaff, S.P. on September 24, 2015 at 6:43 pm

    This meditation is so right on that I may take it and use it for community prayer with the Woodland Community some time when we need a lift. Thank you for articulating so well your creative beauty.

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