Monday, April 12, 2010

Chainsaw Lady

      She’s a high school French teacher by day and a chain saw lady by night. I saw the evidence behind her garage door.
     “The first time I ever used one,” Brenda told me as she caressed the machine’s destructive blade, “was at eleven o’clock pm. I just had to try it. So we drove in the dark to the woods, took a fallen tree home, and I carved a bear.”
     That was a couple of years ago. This southern New York state mom has carved more than bears since then. In her garage is a museum of wooden raccoons, owls, dogs and other creatures that look so real I checked to make sure she kept her trash sealed tightly.
     Brenda has made a profitable business out of her wood-carving hobby. She showed me her pre-orders—pictures of pets customers had submitted to be made into lawn ornaments of discarded pieces of hemlock, silver maple, white pine, cherry.
     Two things fascinated me about Brenda’s work. One was that every facial line, whisker, and feather was created with a giant power tool. There was no fine tuning with a smaller, more delicate instrument; yet her designs are so intricate. I never imagined that a roaring, smoking chain saw could put a sharp point on the tip of a bear’s claws or comb the fine fur of a Newfoundland’s ears.
     The second thing I remember most was what Brenda said about getting her inspiration. “I don’t see a tree trunk sitting there on the ground. I see a bear inside it, begging to get out.” And so she goes to work setting the creature free.
     I’ve been undergoing my own such “liberation” at the hands of The Master Craftsman. It seems that God has looked beyond the chipped and broken edges of my fallen nature and recognized the person He intended. It’s an ongoing and painful process, this shaping me from who-I’ve-been to who-I’ll -be.
     I’m hacked at, sometimes in large and sudden chunks that leave me wondering what will be left. I keep telling myself that God has a picture in mind. He knows what He’s after.
     It was through a tree—cut and raised to bear God’s image—that Another was perfected long ago. His finished work seals my hope of completion.
     The tree—the Cross—is only the beginning.

“For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.” Hebrews 2:10

More pictures of Brenda's carvings can be seen at:!/album.php?aid=2009331&id=1655815995