Swords into plowshares and hate mail into origami

by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free

So I’ve been really inspired by Shane Claiborne and The Simple Way’s recent efforts to bring Isaiah 2 to life by learning to weld so they can turn guns into farming equipment. (Watch a video here; see more pictures on Shane’s Facebook page.)

And I’ve been thinking that this idea of learning a new skill so you can turn something ugly into something beautiful might be a good Lenten practice. Whether it’s turning an AK-47 into a rake, an old tire into a flowerbed, or trash into a work of art, there is something profoundly fitting about struggling through the creative process with the goal of finishing something new by Easter to provide a tangible, hands-on experience in discipline, resurrection, and restoration.

This Lent, I’ve been praying for clarity and peace in regard to loving my online “enemies.” While the overwhelming majority of correspondence I receive is encouraging and positive, there is still a fair amount of hate mail in my inbox and ugliness in certain comment sections across the blogosphere—an expected consequence of writing and speaking publicly, but hurtful still. As much as I try to ignore the most vile of these messages, they can still be quite painful, and I think that’s okay. It’s important to grow thick skin,  but I also want to keep a tender, open heart….which means unclenching my fists and letting some of these words hurt every now and again.

I mentioned on Facebook the other day that perhaps part of my Lenten experience this year could include learning origami, so that I can turn some of this hate mail into pretty birds and ships and kites. As I struggle to learn the craft…(if you’ve read my book, you know that “struggle” and “craft” always appear in the same sentence for me)….I can pray for those who have hurt me, and ask for wisdom in responding to criticism with more grace and peace.

A dear friend (and actual artist!) read that comment, and when I returned from my trip to Kentucky yesterday, there was a box sitting by the front door that included this amazing origami kit.


(Thank you, Melissa!!)

And so I’ve started my odd little Lenten practice. The best I can do so far is make a simple swan…but hey, this is the girl who was almost held back in kindergarten because of my outbursts during craft time, so I'm pretty proud.  


It felt a little awkward at first, but as I moved my fingers across those painful words, folding them into one anther to make wings, then a neck, then a crooked little beak, healing tears fell, and I let my fingers pray.

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