Today I was reading Exodus 35 and was again struck by the Lord's concern for beauty, and that we participate in it. This section concerns itself with the provision of materials for the construction of the tabernacle and its furnishings, and provides for the participation of the people in the making of these beautiful things.
It strikes me that the participation was not mandatory, but in proportion to the degree to which each person felt led by his or her heart. Anyone who felt moved to do so would contribute items of beauty and value to the material needs of the tabernacle: earrings, brooches, signet rings, beautiful dyed clothes and skins and valuable woods. Furthermore, anyone who found within her a skill (in the Hebrew, the same word as "wisdom") for the making of beautiful materials could participate in that way, by spinning beautiful yarns and weaving beautiful fabrics, by casting and forging the precious and strong metals into beautiful hooks and eyes and rings and implements, elaborating upon the basic parameters given by God to Moses on the mountain. Both men and women were welcomed into this process. In a large sense, God is saying to his people, "Here is the overall plan of the tabernacle, and some of the themes I would like to be represented. Now you gather up all the best materials, as you feel led, and use your creativity, your skills, the gifts I have given you to make it come alive and be a beautiful place, the place where your creativity and eye for beauty are lifted up to me."