According to the scriptures, we are created in the image of God the Father, the Creator of the heavens and the earth.
I believe that the dreamers, makers and shapers most fully embrace this image of our Creator. We worship through our own acts of creation, with all the strength of our minds, our hearts, and our hands.
My father John William Mitchell was such a man. He loved repairing heavy equipment long abandoned by others. He delighted in using the backhoes, bulldozers and cranes which he had repaired and restored; like a small child playing with these machines in a sandbox. He and my mother Carol shared the dream of many homes, from the sweat of their brows and the work of their hands, they realized those dreams so that we could all enjoy and be sheltered by them.
My father was a man whose personal philosophy was physically demonstrated in wood, in steel and wire, electrical power and hydraulic movement, in homes which were comfortable in the cold of winter and the heat of summer. Like the true Buddhist, he did not covet the works of his hands, once he had repaired and used something he sold it to others, to fund the purchase of the next toy, or that next project. He only kept for himself the dream realized and the knowledge and skills he gained, which he then applied to the realization of that next dream.
Our father, mine and Susan’s, was first and foremost in everything he did; completely and authentically himself. As in the way of the Dao, he was like water, naturally taking on the shape of the situations in which he found himself, and also like water changing everything and everyone around him as a river moves sand from one bank to another. He raised us to always be who we are, to be true to ourselves. It did not matter to him who we decided to be, or how we lived our lives; but he always encouraged us to be wholehearted in whatever we do. If there was ever something we heard repeatedly from him as we were growing up, it was to never do anything half-assed.
In these last few years, my father showed us how to live day by day. With a grace that I have no words to express, he accepted the limitations of his mind and body.
I am grateful for every moment I shared in his presence.
He lives still in my heart and mind, and I will honor him with the work of my hands as long as I live.