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  • Hawai‘i Conference Office

Retired Pastor Creates Inspirational Carvings During Pandemic

Images provided by Paul Brennan

Over this past year, people have dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdown in a variety of ways, and have found unique avenues to self-care. Retired UCC pastor Paul Brennan has developed a very personal response to the anxiety the pandemic has created. He has utilized his skills of woodworking, combined with a desire to salvage and reuse discarded wood, to create carvings that are inspiring pieces of art. Since the onset of the pandemic, he has carved about one piece each month, including a bench that now sits in the Imprisonment Room at 'Iolani Palace where Queen Lili'uokalani was held at the time of the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy.

Brennan shared, “I am amazed at the positive focus—a kind of prayer—it has provided me. In these uncertain times I have been fortunate to be able to retreat to the foundations of my faith. Each piece of art has a lexical theme, and although brief, has been sufficient to remind me of the fuller biblical passage it is derived from. Since woodworking has been an avenue of expression developed since childhood, the tools of that trade seemed the most natural way for me to respond to the gloom of the present. How fortunate I consider myself! Yes, I created each one for my own therapy, but often I found myself focused on someone else’s need. As a deacon in our church, and as one attuned to those in need in my neighborhood, I was never short of personal requests for assistance.

“Never have I been sidetracked by questions like, “How will I ever be able to use this?” or “Where can I store it?” The wood seemed to be calling me for creation. So I tried to respond with the best of my ability—a kind of memorial, a kind of testament to the positive sacred energy I was feeling at that moment. My effort, small by comparison with the beauty of the grain and its overall form, was rewarded far more than I could have anticipated.

"Now I look forward to continuing to share them with others, especially as the virus tenaciously persists in doing its own destructive deeds. The Giver of Life, the Great Physician, the Healer of All Infirmities—called by us mortals in so many ways—reminds us to focus on the hope pervasive in all of nature, especially here in the prolific tropics. Wood, and human attempts to fashion it, are examples at our fingertips, waiting for expression."

When Brennan is able to combine his art pieces and carvings with floral arrangements, as he often does for his church, he feels that the combination creates a striking expression from our Creator, of the eloquence of our 'āina. What a beautiful silver lining has been discovered out of the cloud of the COVID pandemic.

More about the artist:

Rooted in History

Lee Cataluna: Pastor has message of hope for Easter


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