The Woodcarver

In the shaded porch of his home in the country, a white-haired man bent intently over his work. He was settled in his favorite chair as if part of the wood frame and cushioning. His brow furrowed in concentration. A small knife flashed in one rough hand, whittling and cutting at a chunk of raw wood in the other. Shavings flew in all directions, flicked aside by the deft movements of the small blade.

The old man often became lost in this minor labor; he had long since retired from working in town. His aged bones ached and his muscles had diminished, but his sinewy hands were still strong. He could make a blade do exactly what he wanted, and he used that skill to produce wood carvings. Most of his models were animals, such as giraffes, elephants, and bears. This one would be a lion.

Working for several more minutes, the woodcarver found that the lion he had created possessed a larger mane than others he had carved recently, and it posed a different stance, but such was the charm of this work. Though he usually started out with an idea in his head, it seemed that each figurine took on a unique identity. Sometimes he had to cut deeply in order to achieve the shape he envisioned. At the same time, while the wood was at his disposal and the knife went where he directed, each carving had a life of its own, and he strove to honor that.

The old man studied the lion. It was finished. With a satisfied sigh, he reached forward and set the carving with a few fellows on the table next to him. It was unique as they all were, and he felt pleased as he looked over its contours and features. It seemed his fulfillment only grew with each one, and he would keep at it as long as he had sight in his eyes and strength in his hands.

Photo by Kevin Bidwell on

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