Agates and Oaks

Agates and Oaks

Two of the most beautiful patterns in the creation can be found along the Golden Coast. One is the beautiful pattern of a rock called a Lake Superior agate. The other is the warm and symmetrical pattern of the wood grain of the trees.

Lake Superior agates were formed when minerals were deposited in small cavities of soft rock as water perked through the soft rock. Changing conditions caused the minerals to be laid down in a banded pattern not unlike an onion. However, this semi-precious stone has a much wider variety of colors and delicate swirls. The outside of the stone doesn’t have any particular beauty. Once these rocks are split open the many beautiful designs and patterns are revealed, with no two alike. Often it takes hours of polishing to truly bring out the color and design. These rocks were carried down by glaciers from the area of Lake Superior into the mid-western states and are often found along the shore of Lake Michigan.

The wood grain of trees has similar beautiful patterns with each kind of wood having its own particular type of pattern, though no two pieces are alike. The life cycle of a tree as it goes through the different seasons produces the growth rings of the tree. These rings are affected by the environment where the tree is growing. If you cut sideways through a tree trunk you will find rings like a bulls-eye on a target. If you cut sideways across the trunk, so that you peel off the rings in layers, beautiful patterns of wood-grain are revealed. Each kind of tree has its own particular pattern whether it is oak, birch, maple—or even blueberry wood. Sometimes conditions cause the development of the incredible swirling patterns of burls which are very valuable. It is the beautiful patterns of wood that are celebrated in paneling and high quality furniture making. The soft designs as they are brought out by stain and varnish create a gentle atmosphere when used in room decoration. One would never guess the beauty that lies underneath the bark of a tree.

I have often been struck by the gentle patience of a master woodworker who shapes the wood he has chosen into furniture and sculpture, and a devoted lapidary as he cuts and polishes rocks into items of beauty. A friend who loves to work with agates explained his motivation this way, he said that when he cuts open an agate he is the first person after God to see the beauty that was hidden there. Then, he can display it for others to see and appreciate. That motivation brings glory to the One Who has created these wonders. That motivation, I believe, is what drives the Christian writer, photographer, and teacher who contemplate the creation. How many wonders do most of us pass by every day which should give us pause to glorify our God?

With His fingers the Lord has wrought the incredible symmetry and design of agates and the warm flowing patterns of wood-grain to show the beauty of the order and structure He has created in the earth. If God can so carefully design the rocks and trees, how much more does he carefully shape each one of us.

Each of us has a beauty that comes from the Masters hand. Each one of us reflects our Maker in a special way. If fact, some of the most beautiful insides are surrounded by some of the most unlikely outsides. The point is: with our “beauty” do we serve ourselves or the One who has made us? It is God who takes a sinner and turns him into a saint reflecting His grace and love.

I am struck by the similarities between the work of a teacher or parent who faithfully seeks to uncover the talents and the abilities of the children in his care through much patient labor day by day, and the work of a wood craftsman, lapidary or jeweler. As a parent, I pray for the patience to see and develop the unique talents and abilities God has given to each of my precious children; that my sometimes rough and clumsy handling may not mar their beauty. Then, others might see and glorify God for the beauty He has created in them.

The Creator’s Reflection

Every agate has it’s own design.
Their swirls and colors are one of a kind.
Formed in the dark, completely out of sight;
They reveal the Creator when shown in the light.

The life of a tree in reflection is formed;
Exposed when a craftsman’s work is born.
The beautiful patterns to each kind it’s own,
The Creator’s design reflects how it’s grown.

Lord help me the special gifts to see,
In each of the children You’ve given me.
Help me to see what makes them unique,
Then I can help them as their callings they seek.

Make me patient as they sort out life.
Make me steady in faith through times of strife.
As layer by layer built up they form,
A reflection of God’s Son to us born.