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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Expert (09/05/13)

TITLE: The Carpenters
By Marlene Bonney


My heart was heavy as I blew the dust off the partially smoothed surface of the wood. Working usually took my mind to a higher level, but not today. The plane under my hand baulked when it hit a rough spot. Stooping to grab a tool from the shaving-laden ground, I kept my head bowed a moment longer than necessary, this morning’s meeting with my beloved playing across my memory like the flashes of sunlight flitting across the finished boards stacked against the wall . . .

The unexpected visit, the pleasure of her company looming brighter between them as she approached had surprised a smile from his usual somber face, while he quickly stopped his labor and came outside to meet her.

“Mary, my dove, I am so glad you are back! I can see you are well—you look radiant!” thanking God again for this lovely young girl who was to be his bride, “how are your aunt and uncle faring?”

She had sat down with him, then, on a bench he had crafted himself, outside the work shed he had also built years ago. Each beam, each piece of wood was a testament to his skill and capability as a master craftsman.

“I have missed you, little one.”

“And I, you, Joseph,” Mary’s tender smile crept over her features . . .

My sweaty hand slipped and the nail bent in two, splitting the wood beneath my unusually clumsy hands. Even now, several hours later, I cannot grasp that my faithful, beautiful betrothed deceived me! This thing cannot be! Why, she doesn’t have a wicked bone in her body!

Weak and dizzy with tumultuous thoughts threatening my very sanity, I lay down on the pallet in the adjoining room where I have been temporarily sleeping.

“Oh, God, what should I do?!" visions of little Mary bowed with shame, trying to deflect the stones viciously thrown at her, overcoming my common sense . . .

Then, in the middle of the night, an angel interrupted my troubled dreams and reassured me of my beloved’s innocence and fidelity, never to be challenged again. We were to be the earthly parents of the promised Messiah! How unworthy I felt to fulfill this ordained mission!

We married the same day. Oh, I knew people would talk, but I would protect this precious Gift with God’s help and power . . .

Joseph’s fame as an expert carpenter spread even as his skill improved. Townspeople commissioned him for making humble pieces of furniture—a chair here, a shelf there, even mangers and barn stalls—and then word spread to bigger cities outside of Nazareth so that he had more orders than he could fill. Each blow of his hammer, each cut of his saw, each wood surface planed smooth beneath his touch, became masterpieces. Because now he was working for the very Son of God!

“Mary, our son will be watching me, learning from me the carpentry trade, fulfilling the tradition of son following father!”

Months later, Jesus the Messiah was born of the virgin, Mary, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

It seemed to Joseph that it was only a blink of an eye before his toddler son was playing in the wood shavings about his feet! The boy Jesus loved the unique smell of freshly cut wood and learned how to fashion things with his hands standing by Joseph’s side, but his true gift seemed to be ministering to other people. Joseph didn’t have time to roam through the fields and hills, rescue stray animals or have his son’s imagination or deep insight. Although Jesus dutifully went through the required motions of a carpenter, His heart was with the people, teaching them how to shape their souls. Joseph knew it would it would not be long before Jesus would abandon the shop to do His heavenly Father’s will.

“I remember one day in particular,” Joseph reminisced one night, “our tiny son was over in the corner playing in the wood shavings while I was measuring a beam for Benjamin’s new barn. A shaft of sunlight came through the open window and, even though the weather was gray and dark, I saw the shadow of a rough-hewn cross on the floor behind him instead of his own image reflection. What do you think it means?”

Not expecting an answer, Joseph had drifted off to sleep while Mary lay quietly beside him, pondering all these things in her heart.


Based on the Bible, Gospel of Luke.

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Member Comments
Member Date
C D Swanson 09/12/13
Captivating and compelling. Excellent job!

God bless~
Bonnie Bowden 09/14/13
Imagine being parents of the King. Beautifully crafted and thoughtful.
Laura Hawbaker09/17/13
The first paragraph caught my attention immediatly. Your vivid description of the carpenter shop drew me in and I sensed the mood right away. The shift to second person in the next paragraph kind of threw me. Wonder if you should have kept first person through out?