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Friday, August 04, 2006

Uncle Max and Standards

Since I completed the new cross in the chapel, I have received some comments as well as one complaint, that being that I was 'fooling around with' the true cross, yet I will not name names, for the dear brother refused to engage in a discussion about his dislike of the "carpenter's level and plumb-line" cross, so I don't know exactly what his objections are. Bro. Simon was delighted with the new cross, this morning at break fast he was discussing the symbolism of "Jesus' tools of his trade" as they relate to Amos 7:8.

"And the LORD said unto me: 'Amos, what seest thou?' And I said: 'A plumb-line.' Then said the Lord: Behold, I will set a plumb-line in the midst of My people Israel; I will not again pardon them any more..."

And Bro. Simon went on about how this new cross reminds us that Jesus is the standard to which we measure ourselves, for without a standard, folks could become so 'crooked' that no one would even notice, for everyone would be 'crooked,' but with Jesus, like the perfectly straight plumb-line, we can stand next to the plumb-line to see just how 'crooked' we have become. And Bro. Simon went on about the carpenter level, and how a tilted foundation produces a tilted abode.

It was then that Abbot Eastley raised his fork toward Bro. Simon, then with a gentle smile he related this story, the origins of both the carpenter's level and plumb-bob that were used in the new cross.

When John Eastley was about 12 years of age, he spent a summer week with his uncle, Uncle Max, who was a carpenter, not just a common carpenter, but one possessing the craftsman's tradition. It was then that the young John learned the value of the indispensable carpenter's level when he watched in awe as Uncle Max supervised a crew of carpenters constructing a wood-frame Cape Cod style house. The very carpenter’s level used for the cross was then used by Uncle Max to keep his carpenters "working on the level," and the young John recalls "playing" with the plumb-line, climbing atop a ladder and then lowering the brass cone-shaped plumb-bob down until the pointed tip touched the floor, then he would hold the string out, next to a newly nailed stud, and with one eye closed and the opened eye squinting, the stud and the plumb-line would be parallel, both perpendicular to the flat level of the earth, and the floor, made level by Uncle Max using the floating bubble of the carpenter's level.

With that he arose from his chair, then with a twinkle in his eyes, and a wave of the fork still in his hand, said that when Uncle Max died, the toolbox was left to him. And they were with him on his cross-country journey, in the back of the Volkswagen microbus, and that summer of '69, he visited several communes, out of both curiosity and a want to explore a different lifestyle. At several of the communes folks were building structures, and out of curiosity, he used Uncle Max's carpenter's level to check out these rising frames of 2 by 4s, and more often than not he noted the studs were not vertical, or at least to the vertical standards of Uncle Max, and further, he did not once find a level foundation.

2 comments:

Moof said...

"Uncle Max" was traveling around the country in a van - trying out different lifestyles - at about the same time as I was.

Great post, Brother! Thank you!

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