Grain of Truth is a book about the creative process; its flavors and shades and peculiar demands. The narrative follows the meandering track of my creative process through the course of just over a year, as I explore the work of my own hands as a guide in the unfolding of my awareness. Combining ancient Taoist philosophy with reflections on family, culture and nature, Grain of Truth offers a view of the diverse rewards of creative endeavor — which can be both nurturing and relentless.
Grain of Truth, shortlisted for the Governor General’s award (the highest literary award in Canada), is an exploration of creative work as devotion, as revelation, as a rough opening polished by the shapes of beauty. Through the experience of rebuilding a childhood sailing dinghy, crafting a garden lantern, making a musical instrument, or simply stacking lumber, I search for the essence of creativity. I show how the work of hands can fill each moment with new breath, new forms, so that the self becomes gossamer-light, a kite held aloft by unfathomable strings. This simple alchemy begins in the hand as it opens the palm and reaches, with supple fingers, outward.
A Stone’s Throw begins as I hike with my father up a remote B.C.mountain in search of a mythic stone. I find it in an icy river, pack it home, and spend a year sculpting it in my shop. As I work, I discover why stones have always been viewed as foundations of community, symbols of the self, and embodiments of sacred wisdom. I examine the persistence of this powerful symbolism as my hands shape the stone. And I discover that despite our general ignorance of mythological history, the fables of our ancestors are still imbued with great power. Recounting archaic myths and tales from my own family, linking together the essential religions of the West — all with stones at their core — I illuminates the deep unity among spiritual traditions that are, in the contemporary world, perpetually at war.
A Stone’s Throw is about the weaving together of stories by which we construct our lives, individually and collectively. I explore the forces that lead both Jews and Muslims to revere the foundation stone of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, the Taliban to destroy stone carvings of Buddha, terrorists to attack the World Trade Center. As I craft a volcanic rock into a piece of sculpture, I peel back the facade of the present to reveal the contemporary world as a place where the past is forever working out its unfinished dreams.