I bought my Santa Cruz acoustic guitar a few years ago at a used music shop in Tennessee. As I pulled it down, the sunny Adirondack spruce face smiled back at me. It is sturdy and well made, crafted by hand.
A close look at the grain of the wood of my guitar reveals a catalog of past experiences. Similar to a Steinway piano or an heirloom violin, the instrument’s smoothed surface is a visual timeline, tiny stripes shaped by years of rain and drought. An instrument’s sound tells us something of its origin, whether it is made from new or old or sunken or recycled wood.
Some luthiers and others still construct instruments the old-fashioned way. Ben Niles’s 2007 documentary Note by Note follows the making of a single Steinway concert piano from the Alaskan forest to the concert hall. Technicians from New Jersey describe their work on concert grand No. L1037, which, at one stage of the manufacturing process, rests on its side for 12 patient months as the wood of its frame conforms into a piano-shaped curve.
In the film, we appreciate that wood from a forest is beginning a new chapter, being refined in form and function. But in real life, transition can foster impatience, like wearing braces or anticipating a wedding after a proposal. During the slow work, we may wonder who we are as we wait for what’s yet to be revealed in us.
But there is a grain written in our design, and we have a skillful designer who first made us and is now forming us into who we are meant to be. During our gradual transformation, we become acquainted with God, who personally and graciously tends to us. He is both the creator and luthier, shaping instruments of his glory. “We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to ...1
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