Friday, December 19, 2014

Building Dreams


My aunt Susan, a U.S. expat,
worked tirelessly over the last ten 
months chairing her London village's 
gigantic Christmas festival, a fete 
whose profits not only light the 
village for the holiday season, but 
also contribute to many 
worthy causes.

This year, the chosen charity was 
a local theatre company that brings
together children, teens and adults
of all backgrounds and abilities, to
make theatre participation accessible 
and inclusive to all, even those with
physical disabilities.

If the festival donation enables
even one child or adult to become 
part of a production, and that sparks
either a life-long passion or a feeling
of self-esteem, who knows how many
others might be inspired by that
individual, too.

As I've written before, good works
ripple farther than most of us 
ever realize.

A few days after the festival, I was
marveling at the ceiling of a magnificent
cathedral, the voice of our tour guide 
echoing in my mind:

The Cathedral took over 200 years
to build.  Several generations
worked on it, their entire lives.

Imagine, I thought to myself, working
on something your whole life that you 
most likely would never see completed.

This thought simmered in my brain
long after we'd left the Cathedral, left 
England and were back home
in the States.

I couldn't shake the thought that
I had seen the culmination of an
architect's dream and the life's work
of so many builders,

but they never did.

I still find it incredible.

Several years ago, I received a very
moving email that compared
parenthood to cathedral building:

Your name will not be 
engraved upon it.

Your sacrifices ~ the times you showed
up when you weren't feeling well, the 
little details you took care of behind 
the scenes, the love and care that went
into your work, will never 
be documented.

And, you won't live to see how your
labor impacts future generations.

Like cathedral builders, parents 
are simply

building dreams.

After visiting Yorkminster, that fantastic 
cathedral in England, I began to see 
cathedral builders everywhere, and
to envision souls touched by hands
they will never know.

Like the hands of my aunt, whose
work on the festival could continue
affecting lives long after she and 
my uncle move back to the U.S.

Or the woman in line at the post
office, sending a package overseas for 
Operation Christmas Child.  For some 
kids, this is the first gift they'll ever
receive--a gesture that might alter
their world view, forever.

Maybe it's the alumnus, contributing 
to a scholarship program that will
bring another's aspirations one step 
closer to becoming reality.

Perhaps it's the animal shelter volunteer,
keeping one furry soul alive long enough
to connect with a human being whose own 
life will be changed in a meaningful
way by the adoption.  And the adopter's
experience might encourage others to
rescue a pet, influencing more lives.

Even the man putting bird seed out in 
the winter for his winged friends can 
impact their survival ~ leading to more
nests in the spring, to new life, to an
extra song or two in the trees.

Building dreams.

I recall my dear friend Kathleen,
organizing her pantry with the help
of her mom, just weeks before she died.  

Like the cathedral builder who knew his
career was nearing an end, wanting to lay
one more brick, to carve one more bird or
leaf or cross, she hoped to leave the touch
of her caring hands behind for her husband
and children in any way that she could.

I love to envision the workers who built the 
grand cathedrals, pondering the future lives
they would impact and how the exquisite building 
would make happy occasions even more joyous,
and give comfort to sad days with it's solidity
and beauty.

We don't need to be stone cutters, carpenters, 
heavy lifters or stain glass artists to be
cathedral builders.

We just need to have their faith that even 
the smallest gift from our hands 
or heart matter.

This way, like those majestic cathedrals and 
their builders, we reach boldly for the sky, 
leaving our handprints on the future.

We were here.

Wishing you a blessed holiday season and
an abundance of joy in the coming year.


{all photos my own}