Read Excerpts from Dr. Shuch’s Book:

The first three chapters of The Charm Carver

Gazing In

Now I sit as the sun goes down and winter calls my name. But I recall the time in my youth that set the tone and the course of my days.

I went to the shore in the mornings. There by the sea, facing east, with my toes gripping the stones, I watched the sky and the clouds take turns with the colors of the dawn.

When I first saw him the glimmer of his boat seemed a play between the light and my dreams. But then a moment came when I saw the rhythm of his oars and at once I knew what was real.

He was old but his gaze was gently warming and his walk was full of purpose. He told me he was a tradesman, a charm carver from across the sea. He kneeled before me and spoke my name. How he knew it remains to this day a mystery to me.

“Ah, Madeline” he said, “If only every soul had the patience of your gaze, I would not have been called to these shores.”

I asked if I might watch him work, for I had not met a charm carver before.

“Come” he said, “and I shall fill you with wonder.”

And in the days that followed he filled me with the wonder of his world, and answered questions that rose in me like steam from a simmering pot. And when he had carved his last and rowed back out to sea, my eyes saw then a different world and my soul became filled with new beginnings.

A New Path

At first I was frozen and in a small voice I said that I could not learn of his ways. The Elders, I told him, looked on with disdain at those who worked at his kind of trade.

And he weighed me in the palm of his heart, and took me into his silence saying,

“Ah Madeline!”

“A day will come when your voice will sound from centers all your own. And thus will you invite the songs of angels up in heaven. But now your shoulders cloak your heart and your voice is like the shadow of the sun.

“From the day you were born many have paved for you a path— made straight and smooth with polished stones and lit brightly to the horizon. Wishing that no bump would cause you to stumble or drive you to start any question with ‘why?’

“And yet beneath their umbrella, have you not wondered at the feel of the rain? Have you not dreamt of the far soaring mountains? Have the stars not called out your name in soft, gentle murmurs that stir in your heart?

“I walk a different path that’s paved with rugged stones. It twists and doubles back—down into valleys fogged in with darkness and rising to mountains that touch at the sky. Yet your comforts can not compare to the glories and wonder that I have found here.

“See how your road forks now at your feet! Cross and many will casually aim to fill up your heart from their pitchers of fear. Comfort and ease sweeten their bellies; even now they lounge. Even now they heap great pity on themselves at the chance that you’ll go and choose your own road.

“From here I see the whole of your path—straight as a crystal, smoother than jade. Yet from there you will not even know of my tracks, for they hide themselves from the smallest of lies, they are cloaked by pretending and careless rejection. Only here do footholds come from the strength of your sincerity. Only here is your view brightened just by the glow of your pondering heart.

“My work is not for those with answers but just for those who hold mystery. If you wish come and walk with me for a while. You’ll learn to dance a different dance and learn to sing a different song!”

Work

I asked him about his work, and he replied,

“Ah Madeline!

“The world is filled with singing! Great songs amongst the stars and small choruses in the sand, and who can explain the difference between them?

“But here are we, between stars and the sand, singing of our own life and time.

“Listen, my dear, Listen. In the tones and the chorus and the silences, do they not speak along with the lyrics, but do they truly coincide?

“I listen to the wind. I peer out at twilight. I sense the life in a thing—in me, a stone, or another. I hunt for the discordant. I search for the choraler just out of key and I sit with myself, and ask in my heart, ‘Is this for me to reconcile?’

“I have a craft—
It is violent and gentle
It is big and small
It is loud and silent
A shock and a comfort
It is old and yet new.

“People out of harmony with their own private song lose their glow and glimmer and the luster of their shine. Sometimes they need a reminder, something that will stir them in their hidden, private chambers and help them to remember the beauty of their song.

“Then once again they can harmonize with the sand and with the stars.”