Look, No Hands!

My duties as sidewalk superintendent have reached a new peak this summer. I have assumed virtually full responsibility for a library being built on my favorite campus. Unhampered by board fences, I have got right into the job. The workmen use a jovial signal when I begin an inspection tour; it’s rather like piping an admiral on deck. The skill of these men is astonishing. They wheel a barrow of cement past you on a narrow plank.

Steelworkers are great showmen. One girder jockey insisted on riding high with the beams and waving to the crane operator. “Look, no hands!”

But a crane’s claw can’t build a stone wall. Up against the steel beams stone masons now stand on their scaffolding, skillfully chipping rock. I’m glad. Part of the beauty of a stone building lies in the human touch. That touch has been given to almost every stone in the library by a stooped master mason who follows his men, smoothing a joint, resetting a stone—the heir of generations of artisans.

Pastor Peterson joined me on an inspection trip. He agreed that power construction could never give a building the charm of hand craftsmanship. “But the greatest building is made without hands,” he added. Sensing a sermon, I suggested we supervise the setting of a limestone column. He was not to be diverted.

“Solomon’s temple was built without a mason’s hammer; the stones were shaped at the quarry. Yet it was built with hands, and dedicated to the Lord who cannot dwell in a temple made with hands.”

“Is the temple made without hands the church?” I asked. I remembered a New Testament passage about living stones.

“Yes, but that is because the church is the body of Christ. He pronounced destruction on the temple made with hands, and by his resurrection he built ...

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