The old man sat in the corner of his carpentry workshop. A room in a mud and daub dwelling in a small village in Judea.
The hot sun beat mercilessly down but inside the windowless building it was cool and pleasant. A shaft of sunlight fell upon his son, a tall slim lad his skin bronzed to a healthy tan and his dark hair a mass of curls.
'He is growing so fast' mused the old man. 'He is out-growing his clothes.
'My friend Obediah broke the shaft of his pitchfork the other day and has asked me to fix a new one ' he said ' You have watched me at my work in the past and I think it is time for you to learn the skills of a carpenter yourself.
The boy smilled. 'Very well father. I would like to try.'
'Which wood would you choose?'
The boy thought for a moment.
'I think I would use ash because it has a a long straight grain and few knots.'
'Well chosen. There is a pile of ash in the corner. Choose a suitable piece. Obediah likes a long handle as he is rather tall.'
The boy rootled around and eventally selected a suitable piece. about five feet long.
'That should do nicely' said the old man. 'Now you must fashion it so that it is the right shape and thickness and smooth to handle'
Taking up an adze the boy sat upon the ground and commenced work, The old man smiled to himself. Things were not going well. The tool kept sticking in the wood, cutting too deep and snagging on the knots. The lad became hotter and hotter and more frustrated.
'What did you forget to do?'
I do not know'
'Pass me the adze' The old man ran his finger lightly across the blade. 'As I suspected the blade is blunt. You will never do a good job with blunt tools. Taking a whetstone he commenced sharpening the tool, then handed it to his son.' 'Now you try. No. Don't have the stone at such an angle, use smooth, steady strokes. Now test it but be careful not to cut yourself.'
The boy returned to his task. It was much better now and the handle was beginning to take shape.The old man beamed. The lad had got the knack. He would make a carpenter of him yet. What an asset to the business he would be.
The job was nearly complete and, having sharpened one end to a point, the lad fitted the pitchfork head and secured it with iron nails.
As he hammered them in, the setting sun cast shadows across the floor of the workshop. Shadows in the form of a cross.
The old man shuddered in spite of the heat and felt a sense of deep foreboding but the young lad just looked up and smiled.
Father it is finished' he said