On one of those trips I opened the school room door and saw a new treasure awaiting me. Not books, but beautiful woodturned bowls. Not just this piece, but dozens of them on the floor the counter of the room.
As beautiful and unique as these pieces are I knew immediately where they had come from.
A long time friend of our family, Mike Abney is half dad, half grandfather to me. I vaguely remember when he came into our family's life, but he has always seemed a part of it. Mike struggled in school and never graduated. Yet he is one of the wisest men I have known. He became a believer much later in life than most I have known, but his commitment in serving the Lord is an inspiration to me. Mike turned his love of the woods into an art that is beautiful beyond what I could imagine. Although I have watched as he has grown in his craft for several years and am blessed to have a few of his pieces, I always fail to remember the beauty that these wooden vessels hold. Each time I see them I am newly amazed at them. I love to examine each piece and see what wood they are made from, discover the flow of the grain, imagine the branch that caused the knot, wonder about the woodpecker or insect that damaged the wood. It's truly a treasure hunt.
He has for several years now displayed his work under the name of Shekinah Woodturning. Recently he and my dad have worked together to set up a website showcasing some of his work.
Because I know Mike would want it to point to the Lord, I'll tell you why it amazes me. I have watched as he takes a piece of old, ugly wood. He has to work his way into the wood little by little. Refining it. Taking off the ugly outer, worn parts and exposing the beauty that lies in the heart of the wood. Sometimes he leaves a little of the outer bark on the vase or bowl. And that rough exterior so honestly contrasted with the beautiful polished interior reminds me of the work of the Spirit in my life. Shaving away the old self with steady hands and working to bring out the inner beauty. Removing the layers of self and flesh, and exposing what gives life. Even though their are often scars in the wood, even though there are often knots that are stubborn and hard to work with, given into a Master's hand, they can add to the beauty of the creation. Bringing glory to the skill of the Master's hand able to bring good out of ugliness.
Although it's "just" a bowl, Mike's work is beyond beautiful. It's a reminder of the beauty God has carved out of sinful life. It's a reminder that the rotten wood can still be salvaged and may make the most beautiful piece yet.