“You’re a cheat, Joseph! You’re a cheat and I’ll make you pay!”
Jeshua was frightened. He had seen many people mildly upset with his father over the carpentry work they had done together, but nothing like this. The man’s eyes seemed glazed over with a look of wild disdain. He looked more like an animal than any human Jeshua had ever seen. The altercation had transformed the man more and more with every exchange, and by now, Jeshua was starting to fear for his father’s safety. Unseen behind the entryway, Jeshua looked on in anticipation.
“Have you nothing to say, Joseph? Have you no words to explain this unsatisfactory craftsmanship? I will blacken your name across town if not!”
Jeshua turned from the livid man to his father. Joseph’s calm expression had not changed. Jeshua knew his father to be a good man, and a collected man in his dealings, but also knew of his father’s unbending inner-convictions. Jeshua knew the situation well. His father’s work was not only satisfactory, but exceptional. The fuming man was trying to shave down the price with his anger, a tactic Jeshua had seen before, but never so vehemently as this instance. The boy wondered which side of Joseph would respond, the peaceful or the self-assured. Jeshua saw no compromise.
Waiting for the calm to give way to the impassioned, Jeshua held to his father’s face. But it simply looked on. Direct. Uncompromising. Still kind, but resolute. What was his father to say, with such a man wound as a raging bull waiting for his moment?
Moments had passed with no words. The tension was palpable at this point. Jeshua considered interjecting, standing up for the work his father had done. He didn’t want to see his father taken advantage of. But he simply stood there, looking on! “I must act,” thought young Jeshua.
Just as he was about to spring forward, Joseph moved for the first time. But it was not his mouth that moved first. He broke his gaze with the man, and slowly crouched to the ground. The angry man looked on in confusion, his fixed hostility breaking for the first time since the altercation began. He looked on as Joseph took his index finger and, to the surprise of his audience, began tracing into the dirt of the floor. Jeshua watched in shock. His father seemed to disregard the presence of the man entirely, shaping the ground to his liking.
After moments of baffling silence, Joseph looked up at the changed countenance of his customer. “What more must I do to fulfill my obligation to you?”
The man was startled by the kindness and sincerity of the question. He took his leave after apologizing for losing his temper, paying Joseph in full.
Jeshua emerged from behind the doorway, amazed at what had happened. “Father,” he begin to ask, “why did you kneel and draw in the face of such persecutions?”
The father looked lovingly at his young son. “You will learn, son, that some fights aren’t worth winning, and others,” he said with a soft smile, “are own in moments of silence.”
And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.