As we walk by the shopkeepers and wave or nod a hello they confidently smile and say “welcome.” This is telling of the hospitality and generosity here in Nazareth.
Someone once told me “Americans live to work and everyone else in the world works to live.” I’ve thought about this concept daily as we work in the village here. It seems that nearly every time we are not busy working, the others (the locals who run the village) are calling us to come and sit with them to have a coffee break. The coffee is flavored with cardamom and is supposed to fight the heat of the day. I’m not sure if it works yet, but it is good and strong. Besides, we are willing to try anything, in addition to drinking multiple liters of water, as it has been around 104 F. for most of our stay. (today we enjoyed the 90’s).
Today Tim, Karah, Dave, and I began work on rebuilding the second of two roofs over a house in the village. It is good to work and be with Tim after being apart for most of the time since high school. We have both changed and matured in many ways over that span, yet we quickly realized our senses of humor have remained the same. Needless to say, the work day is filled with laughter and enriching conversations in between other strange noises and flying clods of dirt. Aside from this lightness of mood and the afore mentioned adjustment to a difference in work ethic, we do work hard.
Since arriving here I have learned a myriad of details which clarify and enrich the biblical story. One of which is that Joseph was probably not a carpenter in a quaint woodworking shop as we might imagine. It is more likely that he was a sort of 1st century contractor who worked not only with wood, but also stone, mud, reeds, and mortar. He built houses, and Jesus would have worked along side his father, hoisting buckets of mud and stone like we have been doing for the last week.
I look at my hands at the end of each day and survey the damage. It usually consists of a few cuts and blisters from swinging a pick or hoe as well as the results of being sucked dry by the limestone and left raw from pulling buckets to the roof. I can’t help but think that Jesus was ripped and his hands must have been calloused from years of carpentry work.