When you walk into a tidy, brick building located at 311 Jackson Ave. in Seward, Neb., you will find them.
The Crossmakers are volunteers, mostly retirement age, who will greet you exuding youthful excitement when they have the chance to talk about the palm comfort crosses they make by hand, to share with thousands of other hands across the nation. Their excitement and love won me over completely upon entering the building with my daughter Caroline’s class led by teacher, Miss Ann Gardels. Yes, I just couldn’t contain myself and had to share their story about sharing love with others.
It’s an all-volunteer effort inside the cozy rooms where one can hear and smell the process of taking old cedars and other trees and making them into the perfect-sized crosses that literally fit in the palm of your hand. It all begins with individuals who are removing trees that will contact the Crossmakers and offer the wood for free. Then the logs are taken to the sawmill and sawed into boards. A local manufacturing plant offered to plane the boards for these volunteers and cut them into four-foot lengths and put them on pallets.
Then these volunteers use their giving hands to cut, sand, rout, polish and stamp the donated wood into crosses that are dipped for finishing and then held by the other grateful hands that receive them. Hands like the Navy Seal who served on both the East and West coasts. When he died in a vehicle accident, one of the palm crosses made in Seward were found in his belongings.
The crosses provide a greater purpose for their makers, as one of the volunteers told the students, “God knew a group of old people in Seward needed something to do. So, here we are.”
There they are indeed. They are “paid” for their efforts through the messages they receive from some of the recipients of the crosses – stories that are as unique as the individuals’ fingerprints who are given the chance to hold these symbols of Christ’s love found in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
The profits reaped are very much eternal, altruistic and the truth found in a pure exchange of love. The Crossmakers also do not belong to one denomination, nor do they represent one “type” of volunteer except for a singular attribute they all share – an enthusiastic willingness to gather around a common cause and find joy in one another and their mission. Their endeavors are fueled by coffee, conversation and their faith in Christ and the perfect love Christ represents to them.
I think what I like most is the fact they are taking trees no longer living and bringing them to life again. No longer connected to their roots, these portions of trees find new roots in the lives of others, not unlike the foundation our Creator sows in us. We are not much different than those crosses, separated but connected, by opportunities to extend our hands and hearts to one another. This is the way the spirit of love moves among us I believe – with a desire to be free. True love moves where true love can move – everywhere if its allowed.
I really like the crosses they make, but I really love the Crossmakers. They are the branches on our human tree of life, branches we can all be, imperfect but working on something that matters. One can’t find a much more meaningful purpose than the Crossmakers have – spreading love with such genuine intent that it cannot be contained. What a big God we have holding us, guiding us and giving each of us a purpose greater than ourselves.
Learn more by searching thecrossmakers on Facebook or call (402) 643-0115.