THE SAVIOR WHO SMELLS OF SAWDUST AND PAINT

I am in the middle of a handful of DIY projects, woodworking for our new, small condo in Manila. I’m building bookshelves, stand-alone shelving, tables, cabinets and a bed. It’s been enjoyable for me to sweat like a man.

And as I saw, sand and screw planks and two by fours together on my seventh floor balcony, I ponder a lot of things. My mind slows, and I consider the delicacies of relations past and present, the people I miss and those who I am unfortunately apologetic that, though we were once so close, I have fallen out of touch with their meaningful daily rituals. I wish I knew their kids’ names. I wish we could Skype.

I measure a piece of plywood and begin to cut. The loud sound of my circular saw echoes back to me from the skyscraper opposite ours. I apply a thumbful of wood putty to my cabinet. I think of Jesus, and who he really was, and “did the Savior of the world really smell of sawdust and paint?”

All I know of Jesus before age thirty is that he was born in a manger, then ten years later, ran away from his parents to catch a church service. The rest of the Biblical account is blank. But wait, wasn’t he carpenter?

I wonder if Jesus’ mind slowed to consider the relationships in his life, and if he thought of them in the bigger God-scheme of life—that he was the rescue sent to his buddies and cousins and parents. My mind slows again as I think of all these things. I think, “who are you, Jesus? Who are you really?”

Am I becoming a little bit more like Jesus as I cut and assemble wood? The Savior who smells of sawdust and wood putty makes a little more sense to me as my DIY projects begin to take shape.

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