The Sound of Tools
Close your eyes and open your ears the next time you are in a place where human labor is happening. Do it safely, of course...but try it out. We are accustomed to looking at work going on, noting the activity of people who are seeking to accomplish some task that requires physical action. There are road crews we see on the way to work (or that is our work). There are the sounds of the kitchen as we stop for breakfast; even getting a coffee brings with it the work of the counter attendant (and the barista, if you like higher end beverages in stead of a regular "cup o' joe"). If you work in an office, there is the ringing of phones, the clacking of computer keys, the shuff of the printers and copiers, not to mention the ongoing hum of conversations and conferences. If you work in heavier industries or in a vocation of craft requiring the use of tools, then there is always a requisite wall of sound that forms the backdrop of your labor.
Human labor makes noise. When you take that opportunity to close your eyes and open your ears, as I asked above, you will hear just how much noise even the simplest (and presumably quietest) of tasks can make.
Hence, my awe and wonder at one simple line from today's Bible Challenge readings: "No hammers, axes, or any iron tools were heard in the temple during its construction." (I Kings 6:7b) When you read of the number of craftsfolk required to fashion the elements of the temple's architecture, and of the dimensions of the construction, you get a sense of what discipline and mindful care it took to NOT have the sound of tools reverberating throughout the structure as it was built for the purpose of providing God with a resting place in the midst of the people that was "worthy" of the Most High.
I confess wonder at what a spectacle it must have been to see the First Temple rise in the city. It must have been something to see. The number of people involved at every level of the project is staggering. The transport of the materials must have been logistically daunting. The expense of the materials (they plated everything with pure gold!) must have been overwhelming.
And they accomplished it all without the sounds of hammer, axes or any iron tools.
What faith. What discipline. What grace.
Who could not confess awe at this lack of clamor!