The Pencil Makers Association

I preface this blog by stating that I found myself entertained online tonight which "lead" to laughter and a little reflection – here ’tis!


If you are a pencil maker, today is a big day for you. Today is the feast day of St. Thomas Aquinas and for a pencil maker there is no bigger day as good old Thomas is your Patron Saint. Perhaps on a day like today you can put down your pencils and take the advice of your patron that “it is requisite for the relaxation of the mind that we make use, from time to time, of playful deeds and jokes.”


Now all of this got me thinking a little bit about pencils, and pencil makers. Is there such a thing as a pencil maker? It turns out that there is a PMA – Pencil Makers Association. A little internet searching and you find out exactly how this cedar contrivance comes to life. And it is all quite interesting. Take a look by clicking here.  It looks something like this.




The importance of this little instrument (whether Texas Instrument or not) should not be underestimated. The Internet tells us that Ernest Hemingway used cedar pencils to record his thoughts, while Steinbeck was said to us 60 pencils every day.  I find that hard to believe when you consider that claims that each pencil can write 45 000 words! Either Steinbeck was superhuman or somebody is off on their numbers. All that being said, I am fascinated by the pencil this evening – it’s a slow night I guess.


Two last thought’s; First, Europeans must be far more optimistic than North Americans given that almost all pencils here on the West side of the Atlantic have erasers at the top while very few in Europe have erasers at all. Maybe it is just an acknowledgment of the fact that we know we are not perfect and are prepared for that mistake when it comes along. Sort of like the promises that we make in the baptismal covenant. We always say – “I will, with God’s help.”  In that statement I think the “I will” is the pencil part and the “with God’s help” part is the eraser. We set out with bold stokes each day hoping to get it right while at the same time knowing that we may need a redo here and there throughout the day; having The Eraser at the ready is a great help indeed. Second, when considering the pencil, God, ministry, and living our baptisms I think we could all be inspired by the words of Blessed Mother Teresa who said,   “I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world.” Consider this – if what the Pencil Makers Association says is true and each little pencil can write 45 000  words and can write 35 miles, then this metaphor of Mother Teresa is all the more profound. We may be small in a big world but we all have a lot of God’s love to write and we all have a long journey of hope to offer. We can be that instrument for God – and we need not be perfect – THE ERASER is waiting at the top to help us past our shortcomings and our mistakes.


PS – It has been a long time since I have been compared to a pencil – there was a day, but nowadays I relate a lot to pears and light bulbs… and I believe eggplant is a shape and not a colour!

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