A few months ago I was wandering through a hardware store and saw they had some prayer benches on sale for $1.98. Well, not quite. What they had were pieces of scrap lumber on sale for 99 cents each, but where some might see two bits of wood I saw a prayer bench. Today I had a chance to do my St. Joseph impersonation and build my bench using a few hand tools, some spare screws, and a few decades of the rosary. I'm quite pleased with the result, and I find there is a parable here. We often see ourselves (and others) as scrap, but its just a matter of perspective. In the eyes of the Great Artisan, we have unlimited potential.And here was the photo of the prayer bench:
I must say I love this prayer bench. Placing it under my hips helps me sit upright (no slouching), with a good centre of balance so my back has very little stress. And with it I also feel like I am kneeling, which put me in a good frame of mind for prayer. It sort of combines three postures in one: standing, sitting and kneeling all in one.
Naturally, I wanted to bring my prayer bench to Rome. Except, of course, that it is way too bulky to fit in my suitcase. So I needed another plan.
A day before leaving for Rome I went back to the hardware store, and this time bought some slimmer pieces of wood, some shorter screws, and a long flat metal hinge. A bit of work with a regular saw (for the wood) and a hacksaw (for the metal hinge) later, and I came up with this:
Looks about the same, right? Except here is where the magic happens. The legs are actually held in place by the flat hinges, so they fold!
They can even fold completely down (this is the bench upside down):
This, my friends, fits in my suitcase just fine. If I had had more time I would have made it a bit nicer (slightly longer legs, slightly shorter sitting plank, a bit more sanding on the ends and edges, etc.) but it is working just fine.
I try and get an hour of meditative prayer in each day, and this bench really helps. Who knows, maybe one day I'll get good at this woodworking thing, but for know, even if it ain't pretty, practical works!