Monday, December 21, 2009

The Carpenter's Tale

Working by the light of a lantern, the man’s practised hands carve and shape the wood. His skill and imagination has formed countless objects, many practical, some beautiful, usually for the price of his daily bread. Now, he turns his thoughts to a more precious goal – a gift for his new-born son.

What will this be, my son? What will you be?

I have made so many things before, but none so frivolous nor serious as this. I want this block of wood to become for you a plaything and a memory; a keepsake of me, your father. But what to make? What can I fashion for you, when you are as yet unformed? Oh, I can see you, touch you, smell you; but you are a mystery to me; both your origin and your destiny lay shrouded in mists. Here, I hold the certainty of this wood, and feel the definite grain and splinter beneath my fingers. What is the pattern and pain of your life to be?

Perhaps I shall make a house for you; a dwelling in miniature, to mimic the place where you and I and your mother now live. Something that will recall for you in later years the home of your childhood. Perhaps too it will mimic the home of your future, where you and a wife and child may live out your days. Is such peaceful existence to be your lot? Is your remarkable beginning to settle into ordinary existence?

Or a set of bricks, that your small hands can build and rebuild into houses and cities of your own imagination. Will you be a shaper and builder, like your father? Or will your desires lean more towards destruction? Will you tear down the self-protecting walls others have so carefully built?

I could make for you a Noah’s ark, with the animals lined up two by two. A rescue ship, that saves and protects whilst looking out on so much wasted life. Will your inclination be to save, or to punish? Would your ark be one of liberation, or a means to select only those most deserving?

A boat… a simple boat… on which you could imagine setting sail to cross the lake called Galilee. Would you be a fisherman, my son? Or content to follow in your father’s footsteps? I somehow think that you will carve out your own path. Would you sail to further shores, to experience more of this strange world (that at present must seem strange with every breath)? Will you long to travel, to break free from the constraints of this small town? Will people in far-off places know you by name?

Maybe I could fashion a tree, a diminutive version of the whole from which this wood was taken. A symbol of rest, shelter and provision. A safe haven for the birds of the air; a shade for the weary traveller. Would a tree speak to you, in your life to come?

No… this wood shall become a box. A box, that now your mother can fill with all manner of surprises and trinkets for you. She may place there the gifts which you have been given, strange and wonderful things that we do not yet understand and perhaps never will. They seem to speak of kingliness, and of adoration; and even of death. Still fresh from the watery womb, and already our thoughts turn to the end of your life. But rest, child; be content in your dreams. Death waits for us all, but for you, it is a distant shadow.

On the lid of the box I shall carve beautiful things: the riches I cannot afford to give to you. Gold coins, and pearls, and hidden treasure; Feasts, with a father holding out his arms to his son, and proffering an ornate cup. They are just stories, my son; for stories and this crude wood are all I have to offer you. Do with them as you will. But for now I will love you, with all my being; I will hold you, and sing songs to you of redemption and promise.

I will protect you from the world, for as long as it is in my power to do so.


Happy Christmas, all.

1 comment:

bigdaddystevieB said...

there are times when I'm glad you can't sleep... very many thanks for this! beautiful. happy christmas to you and yours too!
hugs