The Distraction Delusion – Get Your Hands Dirty

I recently bought a pickup truck, a twenty-five year-old clunker that runs ok. I paid $600 for it and have been slowly tending to the little fixes that it requires. It’s old enough to lack the computerization that puts vehicles beyond the reach of a shade-tree mechanic. My father and his father were both auto mechanics. I had forgotten how much satisfaction I get from doing what they did.

When I was in seminary, I had an old Volvo that faithfully negotiated the winters of Chicago and the potholes of Spring. When I returned South, there was a hole or two where rust had done its worst. My little brother and a neighbor boy offered to patch the car up and repaint it. It was a bold offer from a teenager, but it ran in his blood. They did a great job. He now tends a diesel on a tugboat in the Mississippi.

In some rural towns it was not uncommon to see a “Farmer and Mechanics Bank” (there is still an institution that uses the name). It was a collective term that generally described the entire working population. Some people farmed and others fixed. Some did both. It represents a time in which our culture was “hands on.” In our time, it is often as cheap or cheaper to replace something as it is to repair it.

Of course, there are hands somewhere in the chain of events that produce the stuff of our lives. In a globalized economy, the hands may be a world away. Many items, such as clothing and electronics are rarely made in America anymore. My home county in South Carolina once boasted the highest concentration of textile mills in the world. Today, there are none.

We are a people who eat without farming and are clothed without weaving. Our lives are abstracted from the activities that sustain them. We are alienated from human existence, though we rarely notice.

I have an instinct that this alienation creates a “thinness” to our existence. We lose connection and communion and wander amid ideas and not realities. Economists describe all of this as a “service economy,” meaning that what we do is abstracted from growing and making.

There are rhythms in our bodies. The cycles of a woman’s womb follow that of the moon (it is the origin of the word “menses”). That many cultures calculated the year by lunar cycles (this is the pattern in the Scriptures) was not based on some strange reverence for the moon itself. Today, that rhythm is just as often regulated by artificial hormones.

This rhythm is not the only thing about our lives that is connected to earth, sea and sky. We belong precisely where we are. Human nature includes not only our bodies, but our bodies’ connections to creation itself. It is our home. Our ability to master, control and manipulate has made all of this less demanding. The setting of the sun might be sung about at Vespers, but the switches on our walls make it rather unremarkable.

I am not a Luddite who believes that a world with mechanical devices is inherently bad. I do believe, however, that it is possible to forget much of what it is to be human. There are always hands somewhere in the chain of events that give us what we need and use. However, when it is never our own hands, something is lost.

I am deeply appreciative that in Orthodox practice, the bread of the Eucharist is made locally, at home, either by the priest or someone who has been given that blessing. The loaves that I work with are always “less than perfect.” They lack the uniformity I see in the machine-kneaded products often found in larger Russian settings. I like them. Those who bake have to pay attention to many things – the quality of the flour, the humidity of the day, sometimes, even the altitude at which the work is done. The dough is leavened – that is to say, it is alive (just as wine is alive in its fermentation).

I have read that there is a growing split between urban and rural areas, not just in America, but worldwide. Voting maps point unmistakably towards this phenomenon. Of course, pundits have their many explanations. Most of the analyses that I have read are concerned only with exploiting these differences for their own political concerns. It is possible to read it in another way – not as a division between individuals, but as a division within the human heart itself.

We are at war with ourselves. There are currently movements (eddies in the swirl of modernity) that seek to define our humanity in terms that are disembodied. They exalt the will and treat the body as a “fluid” concept. The exaltation of the will (a feature of modern madness) is fraught with problems. To an extent, cities have always been a drive of the will towards mastery of the world. Modern cities, particularly in America, are even more abstract than others.

Even in rural areas, the urban life is constantly streamed into homes. Urban globalism is the market product of modernity. Across the world, populations stream towards the cities hoping for a new life, perhaps to live as a cast member of “Friends.”

It is not surprising that modern urbanites imagine spreading life to the moon or Mars. Though such a life would be spent almost entirely indoors in an artificial climate, or underground to avoid deadly cosmic rays. Perhaps such an existence seems similar enough to present urban lives to be plausible.

To live with tradition has come to mean far more to me than accepting what the Church has received in its teaching and practice. It is a “way of life,” or, perhaps, a “way of living.” It is the recognition that “tradition” describes the very nature of true human existence. We do not create our world – we inherit it. Obviously, many things that we inherit are harmful and draw us from the truth of our existence. That is the case with much that comes to us from the modern project. Indeed, the larger part of that project is the constant rejection of that which has gone before.

Oddly, the “creating” that we imagine ourselves to be engaged in is “handed down” to us as well – but as the content of marketing in its various cultural disguises. There was a satirical song, released in 1993 by the Rock Band, Cake. Its final verse is quite apt:

Excess ain’t rebellion.
You’re just drinking what they’re selling.
Your self-destruction doesn’t hurt them.
Your chaos won’t convert them.
They’re so happy to rebuild it.
You’ll never really kill it.
Yeah, excess ain’t rebellion.
You’re just drinking what they’re selling.
Excess ain’t rebellion.
You’re drinking,
You’re drinking,
You’re drinking what they’re selling.

How can you afford your Rock ‘n Roll lifestyle?

The “rebellion” (in its many permutations) of our modern period is marketed. Ideas, movements, mores and morals are all marketed in a version of late consumer capitalism. Words and ideologies are spouted as though they were the result of a well-considered philosophical position, and this by people who know very little history or philosophy.

There is a patience and a humility that comes in a traditioned existence. It assumes that age and experience hold the possibility of wisdom, and that the wisdom of earlier generations is a treasure. Just as our DNA is a treasure, representing countless generations of survivors, whose inherited immunity makes life possible, so the inherited wisdom of the past offers much that can only be discovered through bitter experience – either that of those who went before us or our own as we ignore what we could have learned.

Another aspect of this traditioned existence is found in a thankful life. If our life consists largely in what we have received, then it is lived most fully in gratitude. I am grateful for what I am, including the strange twists and turns that make me the man that I am.

I need to go change the oil in my truck. I will think of my father and my grandfather and rejoice in the grime of my hands. Farmers and mechanics in the Kingdom of God.

About Fr. Stephen Freeman

Fr. Stephen is a priest of the Orthodox Church in America, Pastor Emeritus of St. Anne Orthodox Church in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He is also author of Everywhere Present and the Glory to God podcast series.


39 responses to “The Distraction Delusion – Get Your Hands Dirty”

  1. Byron Avatar

    This is wonderful, Father. Many thanks!

  2. Brandon Avatar

    Thank you, Father.

    Here’s a 2 minute clip of Milton Friedman describing the free market:

    Our lives have become so fragmented, that to some, thanking God for a pencil seems non sequitur.

    I’m sure you heard of Chesterton’s line ““The worst moment for an atheist is when he is really thankful and has no one to thank.” Even for someone who is generally “thankful” for say a pencil, there’s a lot in line before thanking our Creator. We say ‘thank you’ and ‘you’re welcome’ to each other as if we are self-creators in this “free” market.

    Thank you for bringing attention to the fact that “Our lives are abstracted from the activities that sustain them”. Taken furthest, our lives are abstracted from the One who sustains them. I believe it was Kierkegaard that said “technology diverts us from the passing of life, and postpones the moment when we have to face our conscience.”

    What’s most frightening to me is how the medium of technology affects our brains just as much as the content (see Nicholas Carr on this). And the technology is essentially inevitable. We now have to use it to get any reinforcing message out. Unless that’s just falling into globalization’s trap? We should start with ourselves and then our literal neighbor.

  3. Sean P. Doyle Avatar

    Wonderful. Thank you.

    One of my spiritual fathers on occasions too numerous to number extols the virtue of gardening as a way to stay connected to the earth which is asserts is absolutely necessary.

    When my paternal grandfather retired from the water department my grandmother stated he was allowed one day to relax and do nothing. From then on he would be spending many hours tending to their very large and bountiful garden. She also mandates they go on extended walks several times a day. She was a very wise woman and they both flourished for years before she passed away in a tragic car accident.

    Wisdom for the ages it would seem I need to consider taking to heart.

  4. Fr. Stephen Freeman Avatar

    Friedman’s quick explanation would essentially argue that there can be no wealth without globalization. He never addressed, as far as I know, the social consequences of utterly unfettered free markets. It’s not without destructive consequences. Neither is it all bad. To live the “middle way” is always difficult. It is not so difficult if we remembered and cared about what it means to be truly human. In Friedman’s example he spoke about an “impersonal” system of pricing that brought it all about. But he completely ignored the colonialism and its oppression that produced the rubber he spoke about. It wasn’t price for the workers…it was the profits for their masters. It’s sad that his version of reality leaves out so much of the story.

  5. Fr. Stephen Freeman Avatar

    My new (old) truck promises that I’ll stay in touch with some machinery on a regular basis. I have a friend who excoriated Chevrolet Trucks (as mine is) and said they were nothing but trouble. I smiled and thought, “Gooood.”

  6. Joanna Avatar

    F&M bank was here in Virginia too. From a farm family here, it is a challenge to be grounded now with the housing developments going up around you, and technology causing an nformation overload, and a social world where you text instead of talk, and connect with friends on screen. But my father lived in an age where horses were tractors and transportation too. That was a big change. So if he adjusted to modern changes, I guess I can too.. But the simple life was more pleasant.

  7. Mark M. Avatar
    Mark M.

    Father, thank you.
    I spent many happy hours during college repairing my 1993 K2500, many of them in the garage of my now-wife’s parents. Happy/blessed/macarioi are those whose fingernails are grimy, for they at least understand that maintenance is inevitable. Enjoy your truck.
    In Christ,
    Mark M.

  8. Mitch Avatar

    So very, very good. My body no longer allows me to change the oil, rotate the tires or replace a timing belt. But I know how it’s done, thanks to a father who was born in 1920 and “puttering around the garage” every moment he could, until his death in 1980.
    I made my own Stingray bike from the parts he bought at the local junk yard. I learned to balance the duel Stromberg carburetors in the ’70 Volvo he bought me with a rubber hose in one ear, and him showing the way.

    I understood and related to every word of this wonderful little essay.

    Thank you!

  9. Dee of St Hermans Avatar
    Dee of St Hermans

    I thank God for the men that love ‘old cranky trucks’.

  10. Cliff Avatar

    I wrote this Father just before I saw this post: When it comes to conservation there seems to be two camps, with neither being very effective. One group are those that could care less, living in cities separated from nature. The other (living in cities) group places man on the outside of his environment as a stranger, thinking that if man wasn’t around nature could heal. Of course this is utopian and unrealistic, because we are part of nature and should become aware how we fit into the order of things. Every time I mow the grass with the tractor, I feed the bluebirds bugs. Coyotes and hawks also follow the tractor, waiting for rabbits and groundhogs to get stirred up, so they can eat. It’s these symbiotic relationships that should be maximized. It would require a little extra thought, but it will also put man back in his environment where he is needed.

  11. Steven Robinson Avatar
    Steven Robinson

    By happenstance of being unemployed and needing a job, I left academia and “paid ministry” 38 years ago to work construction. I never left construction. Nor did I leave ministry. Construction keeps me grounded in creation, humanity, sweat, blood, and the creativity of the Spirit of God. If someone does not work with their hands in some way to create, in love, something to be shared they are impoverished.

  12. Dean Avatar

    I don’t think you ever see an older mechanic without skinned knuckles, scratches, abraided skin, etc. Comes with the territory.
    I do paracord for a hobby. Nothing wakes one up like a drop of burning plastic on the hand, or an unintended jab with a tool. At least in these moments you know you’re alive!😃
    Thank you Father for another excellent article. The pain above is much better than the numbness technology can bring.

  13. Paula AZ Avatar
    Paula AZ

    Thank you Father. A good reflection.

    Grandpa was a school custodian. Dad, a factory worker and musician. Grandma, mom and the aunts worked at home…and did they ever use their hands! From morning to night. I remember stories about the ice truck deliveries for grandma’s “ice box”. Yes, those were “hands on” days, where we had a much closer connection with the local community. Looking back, I realize they were not creating their world but utilizing what was already there, or what they “inherited”. I appreciate that distinction Father.
    Now we have Alexa, robotic vacuums, and I am sure, many things I am not aware of.
    Very scary, this technology and where it is heading. Thinness, lack of substance, and a lot of angry faces, especially on our youth. They have no real identity and very much want one.

    Tradition really does anchor us to reality. In our blessed inheritance, all things are to be thankful for, indeed.

    About trucks…I have an ’87 GMC. No, I don’t work on it ( maybe I would if I could!), but my mechanics, who sound like the description of your dad and grandfather, do. They are ‘the best’!
    Long live the classic “old” vehicles…and those who work on them! 🙂

  14. Columba inTennessee Avatar
    Columba inTennessee

    Father Bless+
    “We are a people who eat without farming and are clothed without weaving. Our lives are abstracted from the activities that sustain them. We are alienated from human existence, though we rarely notice.”

    I know you are a musician Father, thought you might like this in relation to the above. Thank you for always giving us so much grounding and encouragement to persist!

  15. Nicholas Avatar

    Thank you, father. I let out a joyful yawp and had to explain to my wife that it was because you were quoting Cake, one of our favorite bands. I suspect they are far from Christians themselves but their eye for the absurdities of modernity is unmatched.

  16. Anne Dennee Avatar
    Anne Dennee

    We moved to a rural area a year ago with the intention of raising our four little children I’m a homestead lifestyle. 42 laying hens, many broilers, a garden and two dairy goats later, we have never known so much joy. It truly is a miracle to be able to connect deeply with something as mundane and profound as your own food and the food with which you nurture your children’s bodies. There’s a place for abstraction (I have an MA in Rhetoric – I love abstraction!), but it loses all meaning when it isn’t anchored to the physical world.

  17. Anita Avatar

    I love this post! It makes me nostalgic for a childhood when all meals were made from scratch, and when my father went hunting and fishing to put food on the table when his military pay ran short for a family of seven. It brings me back to when I made my daughters’ Easter dresses and birthday parties meant a homemade Betty Crocker cake mix with chocolate frosting and those candy letters that spelled out “Happy Birthday.” I still like to recycle and make things out of nothing. We have lost something in this instant culture. Thank you for your wise words.

  18. juliania Avatar

    Father Stephen, forgive me for diverging from this lovely post and comments, but I went to the alternate post ‘What an icon says’ and have taken in everyone’s search for a conclusion therein. It was such a while back, that this may not be helpful – an extract from a letter Dostoievski wrote:

    “…I had the plan of giving an answer to this atheistic side of my work [Brothers K] in Book Seven, with the title “A Russian Monk”. Now I am afraid that this answer will not be sufficient, particularly as it does not refute the objections that are raised in ‘The Grand Inquisitor’ and earlier in the work point by point, but merely constitutes an indirect reply. It manifests itself as a world outlook that stands diametrically opposed to those postulates, not point by point, but as an artistic portrait.”

    That, I think, is as it should be. And very iconic, I think also. What good company you are in! Now, back to enjoying your dear old truck!

  19. Makedonka Avatar

    Thank you father, I always appreciate and enjoy your posts.

  20. Cathy Avatar

    Love this! I am a 58 year old stay at home mom of 8. I repair everything I possibly can. You can learn how fix anything on YouTube. I just fixed our lawnmower engine. There is no greater feeling than successfully using your hands to fix or create. Love baking breads too. God is always present in these moments. God’s Blessings on you Father!

  21. Diana Christina Avatar
    Diana Christina

    I live in the country. Don’t mess with my dog! My dog is security system, lifestock protector, bed warmer in the winter, companion, snake alarm, and teacher of loyalty and love.

    Great post Father. I moved to the country a bit more than two years ago to learn to be more self-sufficient. I have no cable, no TV, and no internet. The sounds they produce would interfere with the sounds of geese flying north, cicadas chirping, bullfrogs croaking, and coyotes howling. All more pleasant to the ear and soul. Bless you Father, and happy tinkering.+

  22. Fr. Stephen Freeman Avatar

    My apologies to all: Matthew, etc.

    I would prefer that the comments not go down the road of complaints – particularly complaints about other people (not oneself). We all have plenty of them.

  23. Dee of St Hermans Avatar
    Dee of St Hermans

    I acknowledge the importance of hygiene, however, there is a cultural affinity with “cleanliness = holiness” that seems antithetical to the Orthodox ethos.

    Here is an example of such ethos, an excerpt (in the chapter called “Spiritual Trials) from Achimandrite Sophrony’s book, “St Silouan the Anthonite”:

    I remember one memorable visit. A monk, a hermit, came to see us. He was about seventy years of age. He lived at a deserted spot between the Monastery and the hermitage, in a ravine by a stream in a wood. His face, ravaged, all wrinkles, looked grey and long unwashed; the dark-grey hair of his head and beard looked dirty, his grayish-blue eyes were sunk deep in their sockets.

    This passage continues with what this holy man had to say. But my point is that the life he led was pared down to the ‘essentials’. And indeed he was a humble man, so it seems from what he said.

    Also, I’ll add without attempting to be light-hearted, that Tolkien also wrote of such embedded and tacit characteristics in a few of his characters. One such implication is that such ‘dirty’ people live close to the very Bedrock of life itself.

  24. Drewster2000 Avatar

    Hat tip to Steve Robinson (Steve the Builder) who commented above. I very much appreciated the blog he kept for awhile, as well as his book Fire from Ashes. God grant him many years!

  25. Paula AZ Avatar
    Paula AZ

    Dee, @ 12:26 p. m. Beautiful. Thank you.

  26. mary benton Avatar
    mary benton

    I certainly agree with the overall flavor of your post, Fr. Stephen, but I found myself pondering (as usual). A couple of thoughts.

    I have what may seem like one of the most “abstract” jobs one might imagine. I sit all day, listening and responding to people’s sorrows and woes, their illnesses and angers. My hands do not get at all dirty. Yet it is an extremely “real” job in another sense as I enter people’s lives, sometimes in very deep and spiritual ways (though the latter is not always verbalized). I am able to do this only by the grace of God. It is a great gift that the Savior allows me to so tend to His wounded body.

    That said, I sometimes note to patients how we are a community-oriented species. We thrive because we bring together many types of abilities and skills. So often I find that people feel that they should be able to take care of themselves without any help from others. I point out that a dentist cannot work on his own teeth. We need each other and our different skills, interests and perspectives are what hold us together. I need someone to fix my car, to build my computer, to grow my food. So I both give to and receive from the human community. I do what God has called me to do with the humility of one who needs a great deal from others. It is good for me to know my need – this is how grace enters.

    On the other hand, gardening is a joy. I grow to sustain the pollinators, not myself. Otherwise I might easily starve, given my terrible soil and the groundhog who would probably eat this morning what I planned for dinner tonight. So someone else grows the kale I buy and eat – and I share it with my groundhog. In addition to my love for pollinators, I garden because I need balance. It is good to use my body and not spend all of my time in my head. It is good to watch the simplicity of plants growing, after hours of being with people who struggle so much to grow. I talk to the growing things, to the birds, squirrels, insects and groundhogs of my urban yard. Sometimes I scold them but they know that I love them. My relationship to them is not separate from my connection with suffering humanity. It is all one process in a way that I cannot articulate.

    Forgive my rambling. It is late and I must sleep. (You may delete this if it makes no sense.)

  27. Matthew Lyon Avatar
    Matthew Lyon

    Fr. Freeman,

    Fair enough. But I think the modern fascination with getting back to organic, to paleo, to simpler times, to less technology with blue light keeping us awake and our circadian rhythms being disturbed – what is a little frustrating is the selectiveness with which they apply this criteria, leaving out the health of the family, actual children, motherhood, fatherhood, femininity and masculinity, norms, and so forth.

    But I as well like to fix my own car as much as I can and right now I’m flooring the attic in my home and there is a great deal of enjoyment in these things.

    Our family does a 7-10 camping trip once a year and what a way to reset. Sleep schedules are tuned to the sun, technology dependence diminishes considerably, appreciation for nature goes up and for the creative genius of God, time to be quiet increases. For $300 bucks worth of gear and a little work and bug spray, there is quite a benefit to gain – especially if you can find somewhere quiet to go.

    I hope this summer to visit a place in Pennsylvania, one of the darkest places in the US at night where there is little light pollution to go star gazing. I think the enjoyment of changing your rotors or camping is, or can be very good for the soul.

    Also, I wanted to get this in again, but in Scripture the existence of cities is almost always tied to human depravity and they become centers of depravity. I used to live in LA and ever since living in the Midwest, wait about 10-15 years and what is normal in California will become normal in the Midwest – so cities to have some clout borrow the methods and ideas of larger cities and further them into every area of life. So, to escape the city either in the garage or the woods or a monastery, it’s a very good thing.


  28. Byron Avatar

    Matthew, a lot of what passes from California to the Midwest comes with the virtual exodus of people from CA moving to the Midwest (and importing the same mistaken ideas that made them want to move from CA in the first place).

    I remember reading an article that included an interview with a woman who worked in pornography; the moved to Utah in order to raise her children in a more “family friendly” environment! However she still championed the same “causes” that created the unfriendly environment she left. Our blindness to our own self-inflicted wounds is often quite amazing to behold.

  29. Dean Avatar

    And, by the way, not all large cities are bad places. I just took a look at the 20 safest places to live in the US…cities of more than 200,000. I was pleasantly surprised by some I saw on the list. I prefer living in a smaller town of 25,000. But, where do we go to do most of our shopping, or for doctor visits? To a large city. One could arguably name many pluses for living in a larger city.
    I know that Revelation is greatly symbolic in language. Yet the last city mentioned in the Bible is New Jerusalem. Doesn’t sound like too bad of a place to spend eternity.
    Yet, the rural and nature always beckon…something about taking a girl/boy out of the country but not the country out of them.

  30. mary benton Avatar
    mary benton

    I have lived in larger cities most of my life, except for a short stay in suburbia as I finished high school and a stint in rural Ohio while in graduate school. But, while in the city, I always lived in a neighborhood. In healthy neighborhoods, there exists a sense of community and this is what we crave. It can be achieved (or lost) in any of these settings – rural, urban or suburban. It depends on what all of us bring to and cultivate in our living space.

  31. Paula AZ Avatar
    Paula AZ

    Both Cain, heir of the metropolitan’s, and Abel, the farmer, were expelled from Paradise. Both fell. It is not about who was/is cursed as much as who receives God’s mercy.

  32. Dana Ames Avatar
    Dana Ames

    Years ago I read this article, which eventually became a book; it’s called “Shop Class as Soulcraft”. It was noticed by journalists and others who wrote on the Internet. It seems that a lot of people agreed with what the author was putting forth, but very few changes have been made; we still value “head work” more than “hand work”.

    I believe every child should be encouraged to take up some kind of hand craft, whatever they have a bent toward doing. My mother taught me simple embroidery when I was very young, and I’ve learned sewing and knitting along the way. It’s very satisfying to make and embellish many of my own clothes, and make things for others, too.

    Fr Stephen, one of my favorite things to do when I was a young child in Montana was wander around “the back forty” of my uncle & aunt’s property at the edge of town. My uncle was a welder and “auto wrecker” and also set up his garage to do oil changes and lube jobs on all sizes of vehicles. Out among the sagebrush on that “back forty” were dozens of cars of every make and model that my uncle bought to part out, and use for repairs on cars people brought to him. In addition, my aunt grew petunias and tiger lilies and salad vegetables, and her basement was full of shelves holding the results of her canning efforts during the summers. She also made wicked good strawberry rhubarb pie!


  33. Diana Christina Avatar
    Diana Christina

    What a happy memory of your enchanted childhood!
    God bless+

  34. Dean Avatar

    Thank you Father for speaking of a “traditioned” life/existence. It truly is life passed down to us from previous generations. It has roots, solid anchoring. So much around us is unreal, make-believe, almost like a plastic or false existence. I think people intuitively know what is real. That is one reason we have millions going to our National Parks each year. But millions more go to “the happiest place on earth,” or to other sterile places. I understand the draw of such environments for the young. Forty years ago we took our own children. Yet, they and my wife and I recall more fondly our trips to Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon, etc. They bespeak true, grounded existence. The book (and movie) “The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit” spoke of a materialistic existence, one caught up in a rat-race, suburban life (and this in the 1950’s). As I reflect on this, perhaps this is one reason so many have taken up the van-life, many not out necessity. They know that there is more to life than eat, sleep, and work in a mind-numbing job…the emphasis on the latter. They are not afraid to have grit under their nails. Many times they are in harsh environments, they sweat or alternately freeze. They are seen working on an old van or truck. They are mobile, yet anchored in ways many are not.
    They search for
    a more authentic life…but most stop at nature and fail to travel on to their Creator.
    Yet that search/thirst is only truly quenched in our anchoring in Christ, moored to tradition, that passed down and practiced through the generations.

  35. Paula AZ Avatar
    Paula AZ

    Dean…thank you. You say so well the thoughts I seem to be unable to express.
    Dana…that article you linked us to is a great compliment to Father’s post. It is a keeper. I sent it to my nephew. He lives in NYC. He can not hide the depth of his soul and I can see that he longs for fulfillment, as we all do. He readily admits that he is addicted to social media, tweeting, which he needed to explain to me how this “works” (yes, which our President is famous for. I don’t get it…). As Dean touched upon, they frequently go on vacations, where each day is mapped out to a tee, only to return to a place they call home, a place distant in miles and in mind from their vacation spot. With this type of disconnect where you think you must travel across the miles to find beauty and satisfaction and some felt connection with the world is most definitely the consequence of our modern techno consumer driven society and a very big step away from our Creator Who gave us the the towns, the villages, the cities, as well as the farmland, the ranches, the lakes, rivers, seas, beaches, mountains so that we may see Him in all things!

    My heart aches for our youth. If their upbringing is not rooted in tradition (assuming a healthy environment) where or to whom do they turn for help, for consolation, and for direction?! Even in my small town, I see their faces. Not all of them of course, but many appear solemn, angry, depressed. Some have no idea of what it means to belong…anywhere, including in a family. So they are only left with themselves, and it is themselves they satisfy.
    Recently a young boy, teenager, approached me in a store parking lot and asked if he could use my cell phone. I sensed he was “safe”…he had the angst of a teenager in trouble. I told him sorry, no, and stayed right there. He immediately asked “why”? A bit stunned, I just stared at him, saying to myself, ‘did he just ask me “why” ‘ ?! Death would have befallen me if I had ever, long ago, uttered that word! After a seemingly long pause, he began to tell me his story. I told him he didn’t have to do that, but he couldn’t help but do so. So he needed a ride. There was an argument with the father. The boy was left at the store. So I drove him to a relatives’ house. It was then when I explained why he couldn’t use my phone (don’t want my number known to the called) and why I wouldn’t drive him home (to possibly meet an irate parent. Nope.) Interesting conversation during the ride. I was glad to meet him. He is a good kid. And no blame to the parents. It is a loss in our culture.

  36. Michael Bauman Avatar
    Michael Bauman

    There is a musical play from the 1980’s called Quilters: “Quilters is a musical with a book by Molly Newman and Barbara Damashek, and lyrics and music by Barbara Damashek. It is about the lives of American pioneer women based on the book The Quilters:Women and Domestic Art by Patricia Cooper and Norma Bradley Allen. The show was originally developed and produced by the Denver Center Theater Company, Brockman Seawell, executive producer. It had a brief run on Broadway in 1984.”

    It is remarkable in many senses but most of all it communicated the tremendous healing power of craft. One of the vignettes is about a pioneer wife who looses her entire family in a prairie fire and slips into a catatonic state. Her friends bring her to their quilting parties and at first simply put the fabric and the needle in her hand. Gradually, she brings to use the familiar tools to quilt and just as gradually recovers from the paralyzing grief. Each of the vignettes is represented by a quilt square and each of the scenes has an episode of quilting in it.

    At the end of the play, he completed quilt is lifted up for all to see. In the production I saw the quilt was crafted by the local quilting society and was massive. It was probably 35′ by 20′

    We loose a lot when we do not create things, make things, grow things and fix things.

  37. Lynne Avatar

    “Hey, would you hand me that wrench?”

    “Do you think these colors go together?”

    As a life-long hand worker, in thread, paint, wood, and dough, I agree that it’s very rewarding to make and fix things. And yet I have also learned that community is important in the process. It’s much more rewarding to share the planning and the carrying out of the project, rather than doing it by oneself. And the task is more fun if we are doing it for the people we love.
    Now that my children have left home, and my husband has fallen asleep in the Lord, I try to find groups who make things. But as an Orthodox Christian, I long to have conversations with like-minded believers. At our church, we had an evening meeting of hand workers. Perhaps we can get it started again. We have had a few embroidery classes for all ages. It would be nice to have a group project–maybe embroidering communion napkins or new icon stand covers. I know some churches gather to make blankets for kids in the hospital. I would like to find ways for wood workers to beautify the church. (Has anyone tried making “Russian lace” wood trim?) Have any churches developed community hand-work projects?
    Please forgive my rambling wish list….

  38. Steve Avatar

    Thank-you for writing on this subject, Father. Those who worship at the altar of academia usually suffer from the disease I call “intellectual encumbrance”. The most pronounced symptoms are lack of wisdom, common sense and humility. These worshipers consider those who find dignity working with their hands and upholding the traditions of their forefathers as the “deplorables” and “crazies”. That our President does not worship at the altar of academia and respects the working class/commoners drives Satan and his minions nuts!
    May GOD BLESS and KEEP you and may His Angels watch over you always. Steve

  39. David Waite Avatar
    David Waite

    I got an ol’ pair of boots
    And they fit just right
    I can work all day
    And I can dance all night
    I got an ol’ used car
    And it runs just like a top
    I get the feelin’ it ain’t
    Ever gonna stop
    Stuff that works, stuff that holds up
    The kind of stuff you don’ hang on the wall
    Stuff that’ real, stuff you feel
    The kind of stuff you reach for when you fall

    – Guy Clark

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