Like many of the key figures in Scripture, Joseph’s vision of God’s purposes is revealed to him through dreams. This poem plays with the themes of Joseph as dreamer and carpenter who is worked-upon by God, and works alongside God in taking forward the history of salvation in Jesus. Joseph is an encouragement to all disciples of Jesus who have to make difficult choices about how deep inner convictions find priority in relation to social and religious commitments and conventions.
Like you, I am a maker of things:
In my case rafters, tables, doors and beams,
Each with their discreet joints holding strain,
I can price a job, the quantities of required materials,
The cost in energy and time –
How to deliver in three days, in six – then to stand back afterwards
For proper rest, to appreciate what is well done
Like anyone who knows their craft
I will see the hidden skill in ordinary things which work.
I am not the first man you have come to
By way of his inner door:
You send your messengers through sleep,
Swift artisans of spirit,
Each with their task to undertake by morning.
This was your way with wrestling Jacob rested on his desert pillow-stone,
With Joseph too in Egypt, vision running free in prison time
Unchained across the years,
First seven, then seven more.
Apprenticed to these other dreamers,
I become my own Daniel,
Feeling for the grain of purpose
In the unseeing lumber yard of night;
Discerning in the darkness
I have listened for your finger
On the latch of my heart,
For the noiseless turning hinge,
Your angel stepping through the frame
Into a secret chamber beyond mind,
Workshop where the character is shaped and honed
To wake re-hung, new strengthened,
Schooled by your design, obedient.
As you have spoken without words,
So I have woken time after time to do your will
As any mate would do
Labouring for a gaffer expert in his trade.
Exact, and to your specifications
I disregard convention just sufficiently for the job in hand:
First to take the lady,
Then her child,
Then to forgo home, and business,
To become a foreigner, until the time is right,
Until another dream slips through to take us further
Along your bridge of providence
Slung between one divine disruption and the next.
© Mark Pryce
Journeying with Matthew:Lectionary Year A, SPCK Publishing
James Woodward, Paula Gooder, Mark Pryce