THE DIVINE CARPENTER
Even the birds seemed to sense our thoughtful mood as we walked on through the wood. They sat motionless on the boughs, watching us, or wheeled above our heads with faint calls to one another. This wood was so like a temple, too, that perhaps they were calmed by its spell. We had walked a long way before the angel spoke again.
“Look,” he said, pointing to a spot where the trees were set farther apart, “there is the river again. We are drawing near to Joseph’s workshop.”
Janet and I exchanged a glance at this and the angel, noticing it, added:
“No, not that Joseph. He has long since passed on to greater heights. This Joseph is nevertheless a holy man who was, and is, a carpenter.”
We followed silently as we again approached the river and we saw at once that there were boats upon it.
“These are made by some of Joseph’s companions,” explained our teacher. “Here it was that Jacob’s boat was built.”
Farther along we came to a clearing where the trees grew close to the water’s edge. Here, to our surprise, a number of people were sitting. Some of them were talking together; others were evidently deep in thought. There were some angels, too, and each of these had a little group of eager listeners gathered about him, “Why are they here? “Janet asked.
“All these people wait to consult Joseph. Most of them want something to complete their Heaven-fulfilment. You have seen, already, the inside of Carol’s cottage, and the Crib. These came to Joseph for what they required.”
“He must be very happy,” I commented. “It looks as though all these people will keep him busy, too.”
“They certainly will.” Our angel left us, then, and went to speak to one of those who were sitting by the river. When he returned, he was smiling.
“I have arranged for you to see Joseph immediately, as you do not wish him to make anything. Come along!”
“How very kind the people are,” Janet said gratefully.
“All have much sympathy with your quest for material for your book,” he explained. “They, who know the Father’s Love so well, are eager to have it understood by all.”
“Does everyone we visit know that we are going to make a book of Heaven’s fulfilment? ” I asked.
“Yes! The knowledge pours out of you in the form of a light that all can see. It gives them all great joy.”
We followed a winding pathway among the trees, and presently we came upon a glade where a little building was standing, almost hidden in the flowers that went rioting over it. Before the door was a great log and along its edge was piled a ridge of curling woodshavings. Our angel held up his fingers to caution us to silence and then led the way through the little doorway.
It seemed very dim at first, so that we looked about keenly, but my feet were immediately conscious of sawdust, shifting beneath them like sand, but softer in texture. Then, as my eyes accustomed themselves, I saw a bench, well-laden with wood and tools, but with a cleared space in the centre. Behind this space, a man was standing, holding in his hands a rail of wood and running his thumb along it absorbedly.
Behind him, all kinds of tools were hanging on the walls. Then we saw the Master!
He was sitting on a bench at the back of the workshop, regarding us with a serene, searching glance. Janet and I approached quickly, falling on our knees at His feet. Immediately, after blessing us, He put His hands on our shoulders, raising us up, making us sit on either side of Him. I was reminded of the Little One who had sat between us in the boat, and some of the awe I felt left me.
After prostrating himself, our angel had walked over to Joseph and the two were examining a chair which was in course of construction. The Master, we noticed, held a chisel in one hand. His long, cream robe had specks of saw-dust and a few wood-shavings clinging to it. We sat silent, looking at these and thinking of the Divine Carpenter who had worked with Joseph in Nazareth long ago on earth.
“I used to think of Him, too,” Joseph said, breaking in on our thoughts. “I began very early, when I realised the significance of my name.”
At this, I wanted to ask him a question, but I did not like to speak. The Master, however, understood and nodded to me, so I said: “Was your father a carpenter, too?”
“No.” Joseph smiled at this. “He was a banker, a very rich and influential banker.”
“Did he mind you being a carpenter?” Janet asked in surprise.
“He minded very much, at first. In fact, I do not think he would ever have been reconciled to it. However, after he had made me work in his bank for a while, I became ill. The doctors said I must have congenial work in airy surroundings if I were ever to grow strong. After that, he gave in, and let me do what I had wanted to do all the time. There was a workshop near our country home, very like this. An old man worked there and he was so expert a craftsman that people used to come to him from all the neighbouring towns and ask him to make their furniture. For a long time, he and I had been friends-ever since I began to think of the Divine Carpenter and decided to be a carpenter too. I went to him and gradually he taught me all he knew. When he died I continued there as master. Then, after a life-time of working, of dreaming and thinking, I came here, and found my Lord.”
He turned, then, toward the Master and a long look passed between them. “This is my Heaven,” Joseph said quietly.
“Let us show our guests some of our handiwork,” said the Master, rising and opening a door behind Him. He led us into a long room whose windows all looked on to the peaceful wood. Down the centre of the room were rows of chairs, tables and furniture of every kind, and I immediately noticed that every one was of a different pattern.
“That is because each is the fulfilment of a dream.,” Joseph explained, answering my thought. Are these all finished?
“Oh no! The Master and I are not satisfied with them yet. Each must be perfect, you see. Each has some flaw-a tiny splinter perhaps, or a spot that is not so highly polished as the rest.” “None of them are stained or varnished, I notice.”
“No, for each wood in its natural state is beautiful. It is only shaped and polished. It needs no other adornment than that.”
His words were proved by the mellow shining of his work, and I agreed heartily. Presently Janet, who had been looking thoughtful, moved close to the Master and touched His hand. His fingers closed over her’s instantly. He looked down with a tender glance. “What is it, child?”
“Master,” Janet whispered, looking up radiantly into His face, “Did you say that this was Your handiwork as well as Joseph’s?”
“Yes, dear one. Am I not the Divine Carpenter? He and I work together. “How wonderful that must be.” Janet’s tone was a little wistful. The Master put His arm around her shoulders and led her out of a farther door into the wood.
“Little one,” I heard Him say, “do you not know that I am with each one in Heaven’s realm? Some do not see Me at first. Some even mistake Me for one of themselves. Then gradually, as they grow, and come to know more of their Heaven-powers, they see Me in little flashes of vision. Again they grow, and then they learn to travel to higher planes, so that they see Me ever more clearly, and the light of My power pouring forth. With more growth comes the deep consciousness within, so that they can find Me in an instant of time. There comes a time when I am always present with them, Heart to heart, Face to face. This is Heaven, little child-the slow, steady climbing into the knowing and the enjoyment of My Presence.”
I heard no more, for the Master led Janet more deeply into the wood. Joseph and I followed slowly. Our angel went down to the river to talk to the people who were waiting there. There was a peaceful gladness singing in my heart.