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.
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 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.
The 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.
The 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.