EcoNest Natural Building Workshops and Timber Framing Workshops

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Returning to Slow Time and Deep Skills

Does your heart and soul struggle in a world turned topsy turvy?  Do you ask, “how can we make ourselves whole and right side up, when everything in our world today is fragmented and upside down?”

In her powerful book, So Far From Home, Meg Wheatley shares a teaching from some of the first peoples of our land:

"The Hopi Native American elders describe this time—our time—as a river flowing very fast, great, and swift. They warn us not to hold on to the shore, the place of security and old ways, because those who do ‘will be torn apart and suffer greatly.’ They encourage us to push off into the middle of the river and to keep our heads above the water.”

This is how I felt when taking my first Japanese wood working class with Dale Brotherton. It was a release from the torrent of industrial civilization.  No cell phone- just fellow woodworkers in authentic conversation with each other and wood.  No information storm- just a gentle teacher who listened to the unique place of each student- and took them to the next place on their journey. No computer and a flat screen- just beautiful hand tools connecting each of us to wood in acts of love.

Japanese woodworking is one of the “deep skills” that can only be learned by apprenticeship with an authentic teacher. It is a healing art for the practitioner and the material world.  The practitioner is made whole by entering “slow time,” breathing naturally while sharpening tools, seeing through new eyes while reading the life in steel and wood, and by using muscle and tendon to reveal beauty and integrity.  The material world is made whole with tools that are highly evolved to connect the woodworker to their purpose, and the results of craftsmanship that gives beauty and wholeness back to other souls and the wood itself.

Upon re-entering the topsy turvy world after my class with Dale I realized a few things. First, I had a whole new relationship with my tools and knew how to sharpen and take care of them.  I also sensed “slow time” better- enjoying the process of taking my time. I had started the class with the goal of completing two Japanese saw-horses (ha ha). I finished the class re-learning how the industrial world conditions us to be goal oriented and competitive.

The river is flowing even faster this year than last, and I am planning my return to that place in the middle of the stream- anticipating another time out of time with Dale, and making new friends at the EcoNest.  Japanese woodworking is one of the ways we can make ourselves whole, and keep our heads above water.   Dale Brotherton is one of the elders that guides our way.

- Ken Hall

Graduate of Dale Brotherton, our Honored Japanese Wood Working Teacher