An Excerpt from Grain of Truth: The Ancient Lessons of Craft by Ross A. Laird

Ross A. Laird has written an illuminating work on creativity, craft, and personal transformation. Here is an excerpt on the spiritual practice of reverence.

"I am making a small and simple box, a vessel to hold the ashes of Elizabeth's grandmother. I am embarking on a journey of reverence for a soul traveling into the invisible. This is why I need my blades to be sharp, my tools as true as I can get them. When the box is completed it will be placed within the earth, eventually to be reclaimed with the treasure it contains. The box is an offering to the earth, and because of this I need my work to be honest, purposeful, compassionate. I must not forget my own source.

"Back in the shop I lay the wood pieces on my worktable: six boards of different sizes, all Brazilian purpleheart, a hardwood noted for its toughness on tools but deep finished luster when worked properly. This wood has no need of varnishes or stains; simply polishing the surface with a small amount of beeswax yields a deep glow, the distinctive indigo silk of prayer flags fluttering in a smoky wind."