Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The gift of skilled artisans


I was reminded today of a piece of art I saw when I was in Bogota in 2008. This quilt is one of 3 and was made by local women who had been displaced by violence in Colombia. As one can see from the photo, this quilt depicts a village scene, which, apart from the two boys fighting in the top, is happy and peaceful. The other quilts in the series present a much darker reality. (That's Emily in the bottom right, one of the leaders of the MCC - sponsored tour)

The quilt came to mind when I read this story today.

3Then Moses said to the Israelites, “See, the Lord has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 31 and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills 32 to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, 33 to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic crafts. 34 And he has given both him and Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, the ability to teach others.35 He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as engravers, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers—all of them skilled workers and designers.36 So Bezalel, Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the Lord has given skill and ability to know how to carry out all the work of constructing the sanctuary are to do the work just as the Lord has commanded.”

I've read this story many times and have often thought about how cool it would be to have these kinds of abilities. My great-grandfather was a master carpenter/contractor and built a number of landmarks in Long Beach, CA. My grandfather built furniture from scratch, sometimes using just a photograph as a guide. And my mom has skills making fridge magnets and other cool items, but unfortunately, none of that skill got passed on to me.

As a teacher, and someone who would love to learn artistic skills, the phrase that really jumped out at me is verse 34. Both Bezalel and Oholiab had the ability to teach others. Not only were they skilled artisans, but they both had the ability to teach; a combination that can't always be assumed.

As a teacher, I want to be a person who combines knowledge with skill. I also want to find ways to make things with deep meaning like the women in Colombia. They used this medium to share a powerful story of hurt and loss. Their craftsmanship helped me to enter into their story.

Now I need to find more people like Bezalel and Oholiab to teach me how to hammer a nail or paint a picture.