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JOHN DEMPSTER: Clachworks tool library vision shines light on the common good and reinforces 'be yourself' message


By John Dempster

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The Clachworks Gala in Merkinch.
The Clachworks Gala in Merkinch.

I recently attended a gala held by Clachworks at Merkinch. This community project plans to open a tool library later in the year where tools can be borrowed, and to run workshops where people can learn to fix broken things. And that’s just the beginning.

I’m impressed by the Clachworks vision: exchanging skills, developing friendships and interdependence, modelling wiser ways of using precious resources, building resilience in the face of an uncertain future.

Christians talk a lot about “mission” – sharing good news about God’s love. We’re often reminded that God is active in the world, and invited to discern ‘what God is doing’ and join in. We may think this divine ‘doing’ is limited to nudging and prompting us until our eyes are opened to the reality, the wonder of God, and we gladly respond.

But then we realise the Great Love is in fact active in every atom of the universe. This Love, I believe, is the source of every prompting, every desire for goodness, truth and justice.

And I believe that initiatives like Clachworks result when people – whatever their spiritual beliefs – listen and respond to the Great Love’s prompting.

Clachworks exists for the common good. It invites us to join in, to bring our skills and abilities to the table, to give the best of ourselves. Some Christians reject the mantra “be yourself” because they’re conscious of the negative stuff in us which besmirches the self we are made to be.

But I believe passionately that the lovely call of Jesus is to “be yourself”. Jesus frees us from the power of the negative things, and helps us release into the open, from a place deep within us, our true God-cherished selves.

Plants, trees, bees, butterflies, midges, raptors – all are unselfconsciously what they have been made to be by the Great Love through processes scientists discern. As humans, we have the privilege of choosing to be our true selves, and join others at the community table.

People working for good who do not share my beliefs may be indignant at the suggestion that every desire to live well and improve society comes ultimately from God. As if I were seeking to colonise all goodness in the name of a God they don’t believe in.

But what I’m saying is that when people freely choose to act in goodness they are fulfilling their destiny, and being who they truly are and God sings “well done!” even to those who don’t believe.

Clachworks is a reminder, a pale foreshadowing of the Christian vision of a better way of being, a new world of community and harmony where love reigns, where people are free to be their unique, glorious selves.


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