The chaos of world events this past month has left me reeling in confusion and grasping for balance. The devastation of the earthquakes in Japan, the uprising and slaughter of the people in northern Africa along with the military involvement of the west - all deeply disturbing and shattering. It swept me into a low, hollow place in my own soul - a desperate place, churning with hopelessness for mankind and the earth; sorrow for all the suffering and tragedy. It left me sitting in silence on a wobbly bench propped up against the outside wall of the garage.
Maybe I could build a new bench. A bench for meditation and balance. A bench of tension, solidarity, and harmony. Today I began to place some ideas down on paper. I have quite a bit of oak stacked in storage; it would be perfect for the project.
The original idea was gleamed from the Garden Bench featured in Outdoor Woodworking Projects, Plans, Tips and Techniques (p. 8, August Home Publishing, 2010). I like the idea of splitting the legs in two and notching the stretcher into the uprights. But I'd like to have the legs mortised into the top. I'd like it to be simple, clean, and sturdy. The bench will be 36 inches long, just right for two people to sit side by side.
The split legs could symbolize brokenness and separation. Yet the stretcher would bring it together, revealing the similarity. The top would span the openness, providing a place of support.
In respect for the events currently unfolding in the Arabic nations, I then thought of the Islamic principle of dunya din. It's the simple lifestyle of balancing the spiritual with the physical - God and man. Akbar S. Ahmed says it this way;
"A good Muslim must balance the world (dunya) with the principles of religion (din). He or she must live in the real world but be guided by the principles of religion." (p. 27, Islam Today. I. B. Tauris and Co Ltd. 2001)
The idea of seeking guidance through our principles is a good thought. It is there that we may possibly find a common bench, for the universal belief of truth, justice, mercy and compassion should encompass all flavors of religion, culture and race.
There is hope in that thought, along with much wisdom. I'd like to carve it into the top of my new bench.
I will build it. Then I hope you will come and sit with me.