85,000 Bricks and 14 pairs of Wellingtons: Reflections on a new Building
The completion and now opening of the new Marlborough St Mary’s Primary School building has been a great moment in the life of the Town. It is also reflects the huge amount of time that lots of people, many of whom are volunteers, have put into the project.
One of the things that is so striking about a new building the size of a school is the quantities of materials that have been used. Before leading my first Collective Worship in the new school, I thought it would be fun to find out some of the quantities that had been required. The Project Manager replied immediately to my request and came up with the following figures:
- 85,000 No facing bricks
- 160 m2 concrete blocks
- 80 T brick laying mortar
- 750 m3 concrete
- 11,500 m2 cavity wall insulation
- 2,600 m2 under slab insulation
- 250 metres drainage channels
- 1000 metres drainage pipes
- 180 No concrete retaining wall sections
- 200 m2 block paving
- 220 No panes of glass
- 2,700 m2 roof sheet membrane
- 1200 meters of skirting board
- 90 No doors and frames
- 800 No coat hooks
- 14 pairs visitors wellington boots
For those of us not familiar with the construction industry some of these figures may not mean a great deal, but for me it is the last two on the list that made the greatest impression. For in the midst of the huge scale of the project (85,000 bricks etc) they show a great attention to detail – two coat hooks per pupil and appropriate foot wear for anyone wishing to visit the site during construction.
Paying attention to detail whilst seeing the bigger picture is a skill that applies to almost every walk of life and it is in the nature of humans that some of us will be better at the detail than the bigger picture, whilst for others it wil be the other way round.
The same thread can be seen running throughout Scripture, especially in the Old Testament where the narrative of creation and aspects of history sit alongside detailed advice on how to behave.
In the Book of Jonah, God bids the reluctant prophet, Jonah, to go the people of Nineveh and tell them to amend their ways. Jonah doesn’t want to do this and flees on a boat in the opposite direction. A storm blows up and Jonah, who admits he is running away from God’s command, is thrown overboard. It is then that he gets swallowed by a Whale who three days later spews him onto dry land. Jonah then completes his commission and his words are effective as Nineveh changes its ways and avoids punishment. Jonah, being a grumpy so and so, is annoyed by this and God gently rebukes him:
Why should I not be concerned for Nineveh, the great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, to say nothing of all the animals?
As with the fourteen pairs of wellingtons for visitors, so too, the many animals of Nineveh; attention to detail needs to be part of the bigger picture.