I have often wondered what Mary, the mother of Jesus, thought as she watched her boy — who also happened to be God's Son — die on the cross. Would she remember the manger of wood? Would she remember the wood shavings in her boy's hair as Joseph, a true man of honor, stood by her and helped her raise God's Son? Would she realize in looking back that her boy had always been drawn to wood?
The following is a meditation I wrote years ago as I tried to imagine what it was like for Mary at the foot of the Cross. I hope these thoughts are a blessing and a challenge to you as we wait for the light of hope to dawn on Sunday and remind us that death does not have the final word in Jesus' life, and because of Jesus, it does not have the final word in our own lives!
As Mary stood watching, she remembered all of it, but especially that last conversation with her boy. He was not a boy, of course. He was tall and strong and more than thirty birthdays old. But, he still was her boy.
"I must go now," he had said, "I have always been drawn to wood."
She had looked into his dark eyes, her smile full of hurt and a mother's love. "Such a fine young man," she thought as she brushed the sawdust and wood shavings from his curly brown hair for the thousandth time. But this time was different. Something about the set of his jaw and the flash of fire in his eyes told her this was the last time.
"You have sawdust and shavings in your hair, Yeshua. Just like when you were a little boy with your father." She hoped her words might hold him close a moment or two longer. But as she spoke them, it was Mary who paused. She thought of the man who had stood by her when the only explanations were divinely insane. She missed him so. Yeshua's presence in the shop had always reminded her of Joseph. While they looked nothing alike, he was very much his father's son. With Joseph's death had come the resurrection of suspicion and the cruel taunts, "Mary's boy! Mary's boy!" Yeshua would shrug and smile his wry grin, as if he heard some faraway song awakening some primal instinct deep within his heart.
Mary's smile and motherliness brought no response this time. "You have always been drawn to wood!" she said nervously. She had kept her feelings hidden, but since the wedding in Cana, she knew the promises from long ago were beginning to unfold. He was no longer her little boy — she knew it as well as she knew the dark eyes, the curls of brown hair, and the tenderness in his voice when he spoke to her. This was his goodbye. More than leaving home, he was leaving her and all she knew as family behind.
"You have always been drawn to wood!" she softly repeated. She touched his brown curls and brushed the shavings from his hair one last time.
It was true — he had always been drawn to wood. She had said it often, hoping against hope that it would keep him near her, or at least near the carpenter's shop. Despite the angel's promise that he would be King and Savior, when he was born, she had placed him in a wooden manger. Now, in the shadow of his cross, the thought now pierced her like a dagger, "You have always been drawn to wood."
"I must go, now, mother!" he had firmly said. "It's time. James, Joses, and Jude can run the shop. They will take care of you. It is time for me to do what you know I must do. My carpentry is needed elsewhere. As you have so often said, 'I have always been drawn to wood.'"
As she stood shivering from the cold in her soul, she now remembered everything — the manger, the wood shavings, and especially that day he left. And now, just three years later, the rattling sounds of her son's labored breathing shook her to her marrow. Tears stained her cheeks as she stood looking at the little boy she once swaddled and placed in the manger. Mary softly cried and said for the final time, "My precious son, you have always been drawn to wood."