Between the Hammer and the Anvil

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I don't own a sword.
I know, huh?
No, really. I don't even own a stylish yet fierce jewel encrusted dagger.
I got skipped over somehow when the elves were crafting and handing out their magical works of art.

I am a fan of swordcraft lore though, having been raised on Tolkein. I like the bit in that last Eragon book where he has to help the Elf master make his own sword and how they go out to that really old tree to ask permission for the metal buried in its roots, because that's really the only metal a Dragon Rider's sword can be made out of. I recently heard a pastor talk in his sermon about swordcraft. I guess it's an ancient Japanese art, and the way he described the craft, it sounded so much like the stories I've read that now I wonder if the Japanese are actually elves in disguise.

This has been on my mind lately, because I found myself saying to Steve the other night, "He's (God's) got me between his hammer and anvil, and I don't really have a choice about any of this, there's not a thing I can do now." So I did what any brave-hearted American girl would do. I cried. Don't judge me. :-) Frankly, it's sort of crummy to suddenly become aware that the hard thing underneath you is an anvil and that dark shadow looming above is a hammer. (And actually, crummy wasn't really the word I was feelin''s just the word I wrote). So there I was, realizing that no matter which direction I turned, I was going to run into...Hard. And that even if I didn't turn either direction, Hard was going to meet hard...with me in the middle.

That's when I started to feel grateful for all the silly fantasy stories I've read, and for elves...who make swords...and encrust them with jewels and engrave them with beautifully scripted runes that weave magical spells when they are read aloud. And they always give them beautiful, powerful names too... (Glamdring is the one that always comes to that Gandalf's sword?)

You see, swordcraft isn't just good fantasy. There was actually a time when people really needed real swords and apparently, this Japanese craft of making a real sword is just like you read in the stories. The metal has to be found to be just right or it can't be used. It gets heated and then cooled and hammered and then heated and then cooled and then hammered and this Japanese craftsman watches it and works it and molds it and sometimes he will get almost to the end and find that it's just no good...the metal isn't doing what it's supposed to do, isn't molding willingly to his intensely skilled handwork. And when that happens...he tosses it out and gets a new piece of metal and starts the process over.

So...then, I guess I'm thinking that if I'm the piece of metal that just got tossed on the scrap heap to be melted down and re-purified, I'm hating life even worse than if I'm the piece of sword between the hammer and the anvil. Thinking about that made me feel really glad to know that I was still between the hammer and the anvil, even though I know Hard is about to meet Hard. It made me more docile and humble. I suppose He could just be making me into a shovel...heehee. That's possible too, but what I really hope is that one day I'll be magical and jewel encrusted ...and maybe even get a really good name that makes people feel shiver when they hear it. Nice.

I know alot of us know what it feels like to be in the middle when Hard meets Hard, and I guess I just want to point out that ...I think it's ok. I don't think it's punishment or anything. Maybe it's swordcraft and we're about to be magical, right?


Steve said...

Beautiful! I love your insight into the hard stuff in life.