They say it is good for the soul to learn new things. I care about the wellbeing of my soul, I want to be more patient and kind, have more integrity and a generous spirit, and so I listen to “them” and I try out a hobby.
For me, the father of three, the outdoor enthusiast, the pastor, something gentle, quiet, and slow, something inside.
For me, the minimalist who wants to own little, protect the ecosystem, and not end up with a lot of detritus from a hobby, something perishable/useable is key.
I saw it in a video I was watching and I thought “hey, that looks calm, she’s inside, that looks like learning how to make something I use anyways, that looks easy I should do that!”
And thus begins my new hobby: candle making.
Many of us (especially men???) feel we are supposed to just be good at stuff. Like we are shocked (shocked!), when something that looks easy proves hard. I have curled a few times, let me tell you that is a lot harder than it looks. I have tried to lead groups in singing and that has taught me that the best choir conductors (you know the ones that make it look easy) have out of this world talent. I think you can guess where this is going.
So I pour the wax and it turns out all crystal on top:(strike one.
I light the wicks, they are too narrow and won’t burn enough wax :(strike two).
I watch the candle, the wick isn’t centred, the container is turning black…:(Steeerike 3).
But just like a batter in baseball, I get to come back, I learn, and I return. There is grace, another chance, a lesson in humility to be had.
The whole event made me think of meditation:
It looks easy (just there, right?).
Count your breath or repeat a simple word (easy, I can count, I can read!!!)
Be still (ok, I have control, I won’t fidget, bwahaha)
Be focused (no problem, wait, did I turn off the kettle before I sat down?)
I expected results and I am shocked (Shocked!), when it turns out something that the masters open a lifetime at before they make look easy and rewarding, turns out to be hard.
The good news about candle making, I think, is that you can see results. There really is a way to make them tall and straight and burn evenly, getting there requires practice and patience. Maybe one day friends and family might actually enjoy receiving them as gifts.
The good news about the spiritual disciplines, you can meet others who have walked the journey and see the benefits, learn from them. With perseverance and patience you can get to the point where your presence is a gift to others in their times of need (I know this not because I feel I am such a gift but because I have been on the receiving end more times than I can count, and for that I am grateful).
In both cases those early days are part of the process, part of being the candlemaker is learning how to make candles and part of being the meditator, prayer-warrior, bible-reader, journaller…is to well, do those things. The early days may not be as impressive on the surface and their immediate result may leave much to be desired, but they are impressive because they require vision and courage, and if followed through perseverance, patience, and the like.
So you best get to it before the wax hardens!