The spiritual connections between the Maker and makers

By Rev. Mark McDonald

I’m married to a “maker.” One definition of a maker is a “person or thing that produces something” and this has become a common name for artists. On the one hand, we are familiar with 501 artists like Jessica Jones (murals) or Keilah Herman (pottery), but I believe this nomenclature is profoundly attractive in a spiritual sense. Why? Because the other definition of Maker is “God, the Creator.”

Closeup of clay pot making by hands of young woman in pottery workshop

I’m intentional about capitalizing the “M” when I reference God as the Creator and leaving the “m” lowercase when referencing local artists, but it’s not because I don’t want my wife, Kelley, to get a big head! It’s because it helps communicate a spiritual connection that local makers bring to us with their work.

In the book of Psalms (Old Testament or Torah), there are two verses you might have heard: For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:13-14, NIV

Do you hear what is embedded in this passage? Not only are you made by God, but God made you in fear and wonder. Fear is best understood as reverence, which is what we often refer to as a deep respect in worship, bowing down before our Maker. Wonder is best understood as awe, and it represents that feeling of amazement when something exceeds our expectations in a good way. In other words, God carefully and reverently made you who you are, and God is filled with wonder at who you are becoming.

Compare it to times you watch a child you know do something amazing. It can be your child, grandchild, cousin, nephew, niece, or even the child of a friend or neighbor. When they do something that we find amazing, we feel much the same way — we are filled with reverence and awe. When we have an investment in a child, we have a sense of helping create who they are and who they can become. Their success brings us joy and hope. That is what God feels when we rise up and do what we have been created to do.

My wife, like many artisans, does not mass produce her creations. She will organize her process when she is making several items at once, but she still creates each item to be unique. I am always amazed at how she knows her works and how attentive she is to the details that make each one what it has become. I’m equally amazed when the people that buy her crafted items find delight for completely different reasons. They find joy in those moments of seeing the potential, and it is often different from what my wife would identify as the potential.

No potter makes duplicate items exactly the same. Each piece is fearfully and wonderfully made. Each mural, each painting, each item of clothing, each cup of coffee or tea, each meal can be fearfully and wonderfully made. Every symphony, every chorus, every play, every hand-crafted wood piece or clothing can be fearfully and wonderfully made. That is what makes buying locally different from shopping.

When you read this issue built around the theme of “Made in the 501,” remember that there is a real spiritual connection when we shop locally, especially when the item is from one of our makers. It is a symbol of the way we are all fearfully and wonderfully knit together in the community and how we can bring joy to each other, to the makers, and to our “Maker!”

Mark McDonald
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