A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22 (NIV)
In Folk School orientation, the program director warns the first day of class students often get frustrated. It is a normal reaction to learning something new. She encourages students not to quit, but to work through it. Stretching ourselves and pushing beyond our limits is good. Using a different part of our brain than we usually do requires some difficulty, but the rewards at the end of the week are worth the struggle. I knew from experience that her words were truth for the first day in writing class last year, I hit a wall. Writing an assignment in a limited amount of time was harder than I thought, and I wanted to quit. So, this year, I warned my friends even before orientation that the first day of class could be rough. But, I don’t think my friend Patty, was listening, or maybe like me she thought, “How hard can this be?” After all, we were just arranging pieces of glass that would fuse together in the heat of the kiln. Yet by 10:00 on the morning of the first day, she was completely frustrated and ready to go home. The tools were difficult to use. The glass hard to cut. The pieces did not fit together. The colors didn’t blend. The instructor suggested she take a walk around the grounds of the school and get some fresh air. “Come back in a while with a clearer mind,” she said. So, Patty left, but after an hour, she still hadn’t returned. I began to get worried. By lunch time, she was still missing. When the instructor also became concerned, I tried to be lighthearted. “She is probably at the dining hall enjoying a piece of chocolate pecan pie,” I joked. Our teacher locked the door of the studio, and we all went to lunch, but Patty was not there. I began making phone calls trying to reach her, but she didn’t answer. We were just preparing to go look for her, when Patty arrived. She did look better, in fact, she was smiling. Her walk must have done her good. Then, we found out, she had returned to the studio before lunch, gone into the bathroom and did not know when we left. We locked her in the studio! After much difficulty, she gained the attention of the wood carving class next door who helped her open a window, remove the screen and climb out. We all stared at her in astonishment before joining her in laughter. Patty said, “I feel so much better now. Who but God would know that the cure to my misery was to be locked alone in a studio?” Who but God? Patty’s spirit was crushed in defeat until she saw humor in her situation and began to laugh. She turned discouragement into merriment and from Day One of Folk School, we were a happy bunch of women. By week’s end, Patty created some beautiful things. She just needed to lighten up a little.