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Hammer and nail

“Into God’s temple of eternity,
Drive a nail of gold.
—from In Search of a Soul by Raymond Moriyama

We are renovating our kitchen, so chaos that tests my “patience and my sweet nature,” as a fellow blogger at Becoming put it, surrounds me. The up side (and there’s always an up side) is that I have plenty of fodder for blog ideas.

I sit on my living room sofa contemplating the box of nails left on my coffee table by the contractor. “Common” nails, the box tells me. Ordinaires. Nothing out of the ordinary.

For something so common, they possess golden power. Those “common” nails hold together my kitchen, the heart of my home—providing they work with their friends. One nail can do a job, but only while enduring stress and only for a brief time before letting go from the strain.

Each nail is meant to be a small part of a greater work. 

The “common” nails on my coffee table—the ones that serve their ordinary, powerful purposed so well—are one of many different kinds of nails, all of which serve different ordinary, powerful purposes. Short nails don’t judge themselves against longer ones; they know short nails fit nestle in where long nails would burst through and ruin the result. A galvanized roofing nail does not feel inferior to a brass brad; they know strength and perseverance serve better than beauty out in the elements. Drywall nails appreciate their bumpy, ridged shape ideal for slipping through drywall paper and sinking into the frame, something a finishing nail won’t do.

Nails need help from another source: the hand that wields hammer. Nails on their own lie listlessly in a box awaiting a purpose, awaiting the hand that drives the hammer. When their time comes to shine, they are perfect for the job for which they are chosen: the perfect size, the perfect material, the perfect shape. Golden.

When the hammer strikes the nail, when the work is underway, it doesn’t feel good. It hurts! Fulfilling the purpose is not meant to be a pain-free, comfortable experience.

If I am a nail, common or otherwise, I have a golden purpose for which I am the perfect size, the perfect material, the perfect shape. I am a small part of a greater work.

I know the hand that wields the hammer is with me. I’d better call up some friends.


Nails of gold

The main reason I have faith is because it is the only thing that separates me from pointlessness. Looking at the universe as a charged atomic soup and nothing more leads me to ask, as Peggy Lee did, “Is that all there is?”

I can’t live comfortably with life being only about atoms and molecules and natural selection. I need something more—the story. I need the motivation to get out of bed every morning and write another chapter in my story, and to fulfill my role in this universe to the best of my ability.

In Search of a Soul

A few years ago at a gathering of writers, a book fell into my hands. (I have found that books come to me when I need them. Another argument—albeit not a provable one—against pointlessness.) The title of this book piqued my interest: In Search of a Soul by Raymond Moriyama.

When I saw the title I expected an esoteric tale of spiritual angst. Instead I received the gift of the deeply personal story of the design and construction of the Canadian War Museum as told by the architect, Raymond Moriyama. Read the rest of this entry

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