Bezalel and Oholiab.
Not the easiest names to get your tongue around,
Not the most well-known Bible heroes.
They killed no giants.
They defeated no warring armies.
They are not listed in Hebrews 11 with the heroes of faith,
But tucked away in the Exodus narrative,
These men inspire me.
They were creatives filled with the Spirit,
Whose metalwork and gemmology were used by God.
Bezalel possessed wisdom, understanding and knowledge,
And “all kinds of skills.”
His artistic designs and craftwork enhanced the Tabernacle,
Turning it from functionality to a place of beauty,
Drawing from us worship by his artistry.
Art for God’s sake.
Whenever I am lured by the voice of pragmatism
Into the lie that functionality has to be cold and impersonal, Formica-style,
I lean on Bezalel and Oholiab,
And on the tribe of craftsmen,
Who through the ages combine function and form
With dazzling beauty and distinctive, individual style.
Creativity lifts my soul to wonder.
The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
The intricacy of the water lilies,
The glistening story of creation retold in stained glass…
But also the delicate hardanger, the versatile crocheting giving bags, blankets and clothes,
The beautiful stitching and embroidery turning functional clothing to works of art,
The precision of the flowers painted onto my skin,
The soft feel of felt hair accessories,
The swift iron-strokes of encaustic art,
The grace of the delicately-arranged flowers,
The rich melodies of music.
I name my Bezalels.
You’ll all know Michelangelo and Monet,
But Ros Grimshaw?
Ruth Coombs? Anne Graham?
Angie Wapples? Vanessa Denton?
Pat and Andy Moore? Gareth Taylor? Chris McShane?
Are these names on your wall of heroes?
For they’re surely in my hall of fame.
Combining function with soul-enriching, jumping-for-joy, breath-taking artistry and skill.
I salute you.