Jerusalem Journal # 174
“This is absolutely beautiful wood,” I remarked passionately, as Ron, an employee at a Galilean carpenter’s dream-shop, breezed through the doorway past me into a display area where slabs of dramatically grained wood await their debut as benches or tabletop works of art.
“It is not from us (translation: We didn’t make this),” he responded, his tiny brown kippa tipped and clipped precipitously from the left side of his closely shaven head. “It is from God,” he added definitively, prompting me to toss back a rhetorical question which both of us knew the answer to, “He does great work, doesn’t He?” It was a meeting of the minds, volleyed within seconds, and packed with theological implications.
Expert carpentry + creativity = Wow! Gary and Micah (of Galilean roofing fame), have crafted those eucalyptus timbers into free-form stair treads for a stairway which is one of the final structural elements yet to be completed at The Place of Stories. We are nearing the finish line.
That home, perched on a ridge above the Sea of Galilee, is one of those projects in a lifetime which stretches both your spiritual and physical fiber as you are swept into being a participant in something so far beyond your realm of belief that you have to step back for perspective—and when you do, you can only marvel at where God took you as you witness His fingerprints in the details and design. For all of you who took the Bible study class I developed and taught entitled Master Design: Decorating by The Book, this remodeling project has become fuel for the book.
In both Christian and Jewish worlds, sales pitches abound for owning a square foot of soil in the Promised Land, where “Location, location, location!” is everything and ideologies still vie for possession of the most valuable real estate in the world. To own a house AND the soil it rests upon in this sacred spot was simply a “heart’s desire” less than ten years ago. Today it is a reality for us and we are surprised at the way it has all come together to be a creative sanctuary, not only for us, but for those who step across the threshold into a cradle of story, color, and embrace.
Don’t you love a great story that is full of details? The ancient scriptures are an inspirational wellspring of wisdom, wit, and detailed design for today’s living whose architect often uses the common to illustrate the fantastic. Slowly, every simple room at The Place of Stories is beginning to flesh out a story or images from the Biblical narrative through color, detail, texture, and a dose of imagination. Even the stairway was destined to be meaningfully “uplifting.”
Last fall, sitting in a foot of cool water that filled the small pie-shaped fountain we jokingly call “our swimming pool,” I found it to be a relief after a long hot day of fighting construction dust and grouting stonework. “OK Lord, what kind of a WOW! do You have in mind for the stairs?”
I looked out across the top of the fountain at the blue waters of the Sea of Galilee and the sunbaked Golan Heights ridge, asking for answers from One who long ago walked the hills and valleys before me, who claimed to be both “The Bread of Life,” and “The Fountain of Living Waters.” My gaze dropped to the ceramic tile murals on the fountain walls depicting the Tree of Life. There was my answer staring back at me, The Tree of Life, or Etz Chaim, in Hebrew.
Soon, scaffolding will go up and a muralist will begin chalking in, then painting a life-sized Etz Chaim covering the interior walls of the stairwell. She has a gift of making her artwork come to life on canvas, glass, and walls. Eighteen is the Hebrew number of “life” and it seems fitting that the eucalyptus stairs carved by Gary and Micah sweep upward like a massive tree trunk allowing guests to ascend eighteen steps, embraced by a profusion of artistically colorful fig leaves and fruit.
The kid in us savors memories of climbing a tree and building a tree house in which to nest and gain a new perspective. When we pray, I believe God hears. He does great work, doesn’t He? It is shaping up to be a WOW! We hope to have you climb Etz Chaim with us one day at The Place of Stories…and bring with you a story to share!
*Stay tuned for the announcement of those invited to our 2013 Writers‘ Gathering…
Subscribe to our Jerusalem Journal email here!