It was sweltering, almost unbearably so, in the silversmith's tent from which a solid rhythmic clanking had been heard all morning. The flap of the structure was open to permit the forgiving cool breezes to blow through, but none seemed to want entrance today. Even the hot acrid air stood completely still, the sun had baked it away. Everything was parched--the earth, the cattle and goats, the people--even the wild dogs could not find a drop of water to sustain them as they lay, panting in the shade of the leafless, dying trees. Everyone was too tired, too thirsty, and too hot to move to chase them away, as they picked up leftover pieces of dry and rotting fruit from the ground, hoping in vain to find some nourishing liquid inside.
He continued to work tirelessly, unimpeded by the deadly heat; sweat from hours of hard labor poured down his face, chest and back, cooling his body enough to continue his task. He pumped the bellows to heat the fire, vigilantly watching the piece of silver ore to keep it from getting too hot or too cool. His hands had been burned countless times and his nose and cheeks had blistered long ago. A prayer was constantly in his thoughts, and when he felt he might swoon, it rose to his lips and he whispered for continued fortitude. "Please Father God, please let me finish this task. Let your joy be my strength."
His father was grieved, his mother concerned, his friends and family thought him insane. They would ask him "Why do you sit in that tent day and night? You eat only one meal a day and we have to bring it to you and set it inside the door! There is not enough water and yet you are slaving away in front of the hottest fire we have ever seen! Surely the heat has made you crazy. Look, even the beasts and dogs hide in the shadows of the trees until it is evening. Save what is left of your mind and strength!"
He was glad of their concern, but he would not cease his labors. Hour after hour, he pounded, clanked, heated and cooled the silver with an ever watchful eye. In answer to his faithful prayers, Unseen hands strengthened him, providing the energy to continue. Each step in the process brought him fresh delight, from the separating of the dross and the silver, to the careful shaping of the precious metal, to the joining of piece to finished piece for a completed poeima.
He craned his blistered neck over the edge of the flames, it looked ready. With a giant pair of tongs and a mighty heave, he pulled the silver sculpture from its refinery and peered at it. Sure as his skill, he saw his reflection smiling wearily back at him. It was perfect and pure. He refreshed himself with a small cup of water the first he had had all day and looked back at the sculpture proudly, a prayer of thanksgiving on his lips.
Emily Carlson is a Minnesota writer.
Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.com
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