Thursday, June 4, 2009

Parables, pictures and prayers from Kaş ...the carpenter

Kaș is a simple place where people make do and make things themselves, often with a mighty splash of beauty tossed in. Last year we watched a man build a stone wall in the parking lot below us. Two weeks of dawn-to-dark hard labor. He left a trough in the top, and this year it is planted with flowers and lovingly tended.

Our kitchen cabinets and closets are hand-made, as are our dining table and chairs. Sűleyman began with rough sticks of pine that he planed and laminated into panels himself. He beveled edges and trim pieces with simple hand tools, and did the decorative design in the table and chairs with a small awl. I drew pictures and jotted measures, and he interpreted with craftsmanship and simple creativity.

This kind of custom work would be outrageously expensive anywhere else. Here it’s just one of the ways you get basics, one of the ways a local guy willing to work hard with his mind, heart and hands can support his family.

We love visiting Sűleyman’s workshop. Set into the hillside beneath his Gőkseke home, one wall is completely open to the sea. The place is piled with sawdust and works in progress. Tools are few and basic, and a few photos of his pieces are tacked to the back wall. When we pull up Sűleyman’s face crinkles with delight. We talk in body language and my pigeon Turkish. Invariably patient with changes and misunderstandings, his eyes sparkle when I admire his workmanship and he loves Curt’s photos that capture the process and the human face of his furniture.

As I watch Sűleyman labor over a piece, I’m touched by his obvious love of the wood and the way it responds to his touch. I admire his quiet spirit towards his crew, and the way he frees them to do what they are good at, giving them respect and dignity. Both of his adult children have turned up when he needed extra hands to install things. His labors have allowed them university degrees and professional jobs, but their admiration, pride and love for their dad glows as they work together.

Jesus was a carpenter in a small town . I think he and Sűleyman would have gotten on. Sűleyman helps me to imagine the hard work of the carpenter shop. I think about the job-to-job nature of Sűleyman’s business. The work he’s done in our place represents close to two months of his life. I hear this past winter was a lean one. The shop can be a hot, sweaty place. Misunderstandings can lead to waste of time and money. Yet the wood is a living thing, and the most utilitarian piece can embody great beauty under a loving hand. I think about the family right there above the shop, and the community of fortune that draws a 25-year-old nurse to spend two days holding tools and nails while she and her dad chat peaceably.

Jesus was a carpenter in a small town. Watching Sűleyman, I’ve come to think that it was a good school to learn about beauty, ingenuity, people and family, patience and hard work, and human need.

Oh Lord, bless Sűleyman. Thank you for the beauty and simplicity of spirit he has shared with us. May we be Your sweet fragrance of life to him and to those he loves.

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