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Lefse and a Pastor’s Lust

Little did I know last Christmas that the innocent little act of selling an heirloom lefse rolling pin and turning stick could lead a Lutheran minister to lust.

Well, it did, and it weighed on my soul when I learned about the situation in an email from Rev. Daniel Bowman, pastor at Hawk Creek Lutheran Church in Sacred Heart, Minnesota.

Pastor Dan and Hawk Creek’s Lefse Ministry were featured in an entire chapter of Keep On Rolling! Life on the Lefse Trail and Learning to Get a Round. He is a wellspring of faith and a man of the people as he rolls thousands of lefse each fall when the church gives away and sells lefse to the community.

His family reached out to me last Christmas, hoping I had a beautiful lefse pin that could serve as a gift to Pastor Dan. This pin would replace the pin he’d used for years, which was showing wear.

Pastor Dan Bowman

I worked out details with Pastor Dan’s daughters Hannah Shibeshi and Ruth Haugstad, who decided to go with the Magnificent Maple Walnut Wave masterpiece made by woodturner Jim Jacobs (see photo below). This is a bigger pin with larger handles for Pastor Dan, who stands 6′ 4″ tall.

The family wanted the gift personalized with the words “Pastor Daniel Bowman Psalm 34:8” written on the pin. That passage in the Bible, by the way, is:

O taste and see that the Lord is good: Blessed is the man that trusteth in him.

Psalm 34:8

Jim is not an inscriber, but he did a pretty darn good job fulfilling the family’s wish (see below).

Jim Jacobs, who turned this rolling pin on a lathe, personalized the pin, which was a Christmas gift from Pastor Dan’s family last year.

Pastor Dan’s Bind

Christmas came and went, and on January 3 of this year, I received an email from Pastor Dan, who thanked me for working with his family to provide his special Christmas gifts. He continued:

When I first saw the picture on your website, I was absolutely and viscerally stunned. Being a rather frugal person, I didn’t think myself worthy of such beauty and extravagance. This led to a serious problem with my ongoing violation of the 10th commandment, or 9th commandment, as it may also be considered in the Lutheran tradition. In either case, related to the lust of the eyes. My problem wasn’t at all with my “neighbor’s” wife. But it was with her rolling pin! A variegated design with multiple woods all lined up would be impressive and beautiful, though expected of a skilled wood craftsman. But this dark maple wave design of varying thickness is beyond description. I cannot imagine the specialized techniques or jigs Jim Jacobs must have used to create this “out of the box design” beauty. I must thank him in person some day.

My rolling pin that has crafted approximately 100,000 lefse was gradually seeing wear and tear, especially from rubbing on the outside part of the handle from the knobby stopper on the metal rod. Occasionally I will have to pluck extraneous fibrous wood pieces from lefse. I do not have ball bearings, but have been fortunate to have a metal rod as the axle. I shared my problem (of the need for a new rolling pin as well as my problem with the commandment violation) with my daughter, not thinking that she would even consider getting it [a new rolling pin].

If you think about it, one way to conquer lusting after your neighbor’s house is to buy another like it for yourself. In any case, I no longer have the problem—as it regards lefse rolling pins, at least—since I am now the proud owner of one of the most beautiful rolling pins in the world.

At this point in the email, I was pleased that Pastor Dan was so pleased—and impressed that he was open about his “violation” of the last two of the Ten Commandments. Yes, he is one of us, I thought. But there was more to the story, an issue of self-worth, it seemed! Pastor Dan wrote:

I now have a new problem. How does one go about steeling up the nerve to press a “Mona Lisa” upon a ball of simple and ordinary lefse dough? Applying such a beautiful piece of art to culinary projects seems quite prodigious (aka prodigal – “extravagant”) – something akin to throwing pearls before swine, using the language of faith.

The other issue, a result of my strong sense of loyalty, is this: How will I feel about relegating the older rolling pin to a life of disuse in a drawer? Will it be something like putting one’s mother (or spouse) in the nursing home? How will I deal with my sense of betrayal of one who has been such a friend for so many years?

I will need your ongoing prayers on this matter. I wonder if thinking it through in terms of a death and a resurrection experience would be helpful?

I saw Jim Jacobs the morning I received the email and passed on Pastor Dan’s compliments. Jim read the email and then apologized for putting Pastor Dan in a Ten Commandment bind because of his rolling pin!

Oh, the power of lefse and all things lefse!

In the months since these issues surfaced, I have been praying for Pastor Dan. Let your faith lead you, my friend.

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