The Simple Pencil

It’s been said that back in the 1960s during the space race, NASA spent a whack load of government money on designing a pen that would write in zero gravity. After all, how will ink run down a page if there is no gravity to pull it that way? How would the astronauts make notes on all the scientific stuff they had to do up there? A new and improved writing instrument must be designed! The Russian astronauts took a simpler approach: they used a pencil.

Photo: Yoann Siloine

All joking aside, I was musing this week about the simple pencil. I’m not sure why… it just happened to come to my brain. So, I looked it up. Faber-Castell, the who’s who of pencils, has been producing top-quality pencils for over 257 years. The leads (both coloured and the typical grey) are made with a clay-graphite mixture that is mixed, dried and basically glued between a sandwich of wood. The wood has to be strong enough to not snap under the weight of the writer’s hand, yet flexible enough to bend slightly for the stroke of the letter. That wood can be shaped in the round, hexagonal or square shape that we all know and love. Not to mention, sharpened to the perfect “tip”. Final exam writers, rejoice!

I love a sharp pencil. It just evokes great memories of the start of something new. A blank canvas if you will. Plus, it makes for remarkable colouring and shading. (re mark able — see what I did there?) Anyway… Have you ever thought about a simple pencil and the possibilities it holds? A funny little muse, isn’t it? Did all sumptuous writers think about the ink or the pen or the pencil they used? Plain paper or ruled? A notebook? Does everyone use a keyboard now? Have we lost touch with the true art of letter writing and letter making? They don’t even teach penmanship in schools anymore (and believe me, it shows!)

The ancient scriptures are one of the most unique collections of writing on the planet! I have no idea how the writers penned the scrolls… ink? chalk? Graphite pencil? Whatever method they used, we can be assured that the words bring promise and hope from an eternal God who cares for His people. And the simple words are our guides for both now and for all future generations! It always amazes me that the Bible is timeless. People have been reading it for hundreds of years… and the words still ring true. It’s because there is something supernatural immersed in those written words. Psalm 119 tells us it is a “lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path… our truth and our hope”.

Nothing like a sharp pencil — and the words it can make!

I’m guilty of not diving into the Word enough. There is such richness in the written word, and I don’t take full advantage of it as I should. Perhaps I should write out passages. Does anyone do this? I hear it is a great discipline to adhere to, especially in these days of digital screens. Graphite pencils and loss of handwriting skills be banished! Please share in the comments if you’ve tried this. I’d love to hear how it impacted you! Perhaps you’ve journalled with coloured pencils and brought scriptures to life. Share!

And so, my faith journey continues as I think about simple things and how they influence the complex. Oh, and that thing about the space pen? Apparently, some guy named Paul C. Fisher did spend millions in developing what later became known as “the space pen”… which uses a pressurized cartridge to make the ink flow. Even the Russians began using them. Who knew? We earthlings can purchase one for about $50. Maybe I should get one for jotting down sermon notes. Nah, I’ll stick with the simple pencil.

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