Bridge Building

It’s been awhile since my last blog. But for those of you who know me, you’re not surprised. I tend to get excited about a particular activity or topic and go “whole hog” after it for a bit. Then my interest wanes as the newness wears off and I’m on to something else. A few examples of some of my here-today-gone-tomorrow fads include raising Japanese quail, reading books on Antarctic exploration, and baking bread.

See image attributions below

But some things I periodically return to and ultimately become fairly consistent with – or at least my spurts of enthusiasm develop a sort of rhythm, coming and going regularly. My fascination with books by or about CS Lewis, Dietrich Bonhoeffer or Thomas Merton fall into this category. I may go months or years without reading a book related to any of these men. But one day, something re-piques my interest and I embark on a reading binge that lasts for weeks or months.

Now there are a few things that I have pretty much stuck with – been “consistently consistent with” – for years. My devotion to my lovely wife is the most obvious example – 33 years and I’m still smitten (most days). Hunting and bicycling also come to mind. (Speaking of hunting… if you love hunting and the outdoors, check out my son’s blog here. He’s written some great stuff.) And woodworking fits here. In fact, woodworking has been the primary distraction in my life for the past several months. It’s one of the reasons my blogging sort of fell off.

I’ll use today’s blog to introduce you to the exciting woodworking project that I – and several others – have been pouring ourselves into for the past 7 months. We’ve been building a bridge!

Not That Kind of Bridge

Well, not an actual bridge. Instead we’ve been building a woodshop that we’ve come to call the Iron Bridge Woodshop. It’s become one of our most effective tools in achieving the mission of our small nonprofit Six Treasures (6T). Have a look at the following short (less than 2 minutes) video on our work with the homeless and how the woodshop fits in.

You might wonder how woodworking benefits the homeless or our volunteers. As it turns out, individuals who work in the woodshop enjoy rich opportunities for three experiences that are vital for a full and meaningful life: opportunities to connect, create and contribute. Allow me to briefly elaborate.

Connect

Iron sharpens iron and one man sharpens another.

Proverbs 27:17 (NIV)
The Woodshop Crew Horsing Around After Lunch

The overarching theme of the woodshop is consistent with the Six Treasures mission: the development of sound, life-giving relationships. Even the name, Iron Bridge, is intended to evoke the image of strong relationships that bridge the gap between the materially poor and the materially non-poor.

Such rich connections are especially lacking in the lives of those living on the streets. And given that the comparatively wealthy in our community live busy, fractured lives, people with stable housing often find themselves surprisingly lonely and disconnected from those around them. 

At Iron Bridge we work hard at creating a shop atmosphere that is welcoming, relaxed and orderly. Our intent is to provide all our participants a fertile environment in which they can work, learn and, most importantly, connect.

Create

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth [and] God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him.

Gen 1:1, 27 (RSV)
Nat working at the scroll saw

God’s first recorded act in scripture is to create the earth and all that is in it. And we learn a few verses later that God created man in God’s own image. It follows then that men and women, like God, are by nature creative. To fully live, we humans need to create. The Iron Bridge Woodshop enables participants, both “homed” and homeless, to live into the creativity that results from being made in the Creator’s image. Creating products in the woodshop is fulfilling – it is literally life-giving.

Contribute

…”It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Romans 20: 35b (RSV)

Persistent isolation and idleness tend to cause the homeless to feel unwanted and unnecessary. And constantly being in need- always receiving and never giving – promotes a sense of dependence. Rarely do the homeless get the opportunity to assist others or make contributions to the common good. As a result, the homeless and poor often lose sight of their giftedness and their ability to offer others anything of value.

Those of us that are constantly surrounded by people and constantly “doing” often find that many of our activities are focused on ourselves or our immediate family. Rarely do we set aside time and energy to unselfishly give back to the communities that constitute the environment in which we thrive.

The end product of all the connecting and creating at the Iron Bridge Woodshop is beautiful, handcrafted wood products that bring joy, pleasure and utility to others. Furthermore, proceeds from the sale of the products support the charitable work of Six Treasures. This knowledge is deeply satisfying for all our participants, regardless of their housing status.

Learn More and Support

If you would like to learn more about Six Treasures or the Iron Bridge Woodshop, visit our websites at www.sixtreasures.org and www.ironbridgewoodshop.com. Or email me by clicking the “Contact” link at the top of this page. We also have a small Etsy store that makes a few of our products available. You can visit it here. And finally, if you would like to support Six Treasures or the Woodshop with a financial contribution, click the Donate button below.

Donate

Hey, thanks for reading today. I’m feeling the blogging “bug” again so I hope it won’t be too long before I make another post. But I make no promises. Who knows? I may get the itch to re-start my Japanese quail operation….

Japanese quail photo by Hiyashi Haka on Flickr; Antarctic photo by Trey Ratcliff on Flickr; Bread photo by Kate Remmer on Unsplash

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

2 thoughts on “Bridge Building

    1. Yes! What an unbelievable story. If anyone wants to read about Antarctic exploration, Endurance is the place to start. Wow!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.