I’ve always been partial to carpenters. Not just because Jesus was a carpenter, but because my grandfather was a carpenter. As children, my sister, cousins and I would sit transfixed as grandpa planed a board or measured a surface. His workshop was a space in the cellar where during the fall he made use of the wine press which stood in the corner. Because the barrels in which he stored the wine that he made lay just beyond a wooden door we children were forbidden to enter, grandpa’s carpenter shop smelled of a mixture of saw dust and and over-ripe grapes. I still enjoy watching a carpenter who, like my grandpa remains focused on the project in his hands, no matter how many on-lookers watch. We cousins loved grandpa for his ready laugh and for his skillful hands. We were proud of grandfather, an immigrant who taught himself to read blue prints and, thus, rose to be a master carpenter. We remember him with love and humility.

A recent editorial in the New York Times about the immigrant carpenters who are building the “Silla Sagrada”, the Pope’s Chair, for the up-coming visit of Pope francis to New York City, brought back a flood of memories new wood, saws, planes, hammers and screw drivers. I hope that the day laborer immigrants involved do not let a moment of notoriety distract them from being the best carpenters that they can be so that some day each may become a master carpenter and a grandfather to be loved and remembered.

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