The house we build

An elderly carpenter was ready to retire. He told his employer-contractor of his plans to leave the job and live a more leisurely life with his wife, enjoying his extended family. He would miss the paycheck, but he had to retire. They could get by.

The contractor was sorry to see a good worker go and asked him if he could build just one more house as a personal favour. The carpenter said yes, but in time it was easy to see that his heart was not in his work. He resorted to shoddy workmanship and used inferior material. It was an unfortunate way to end his career.

When the carpenter finished his work, the contractor came to see the house and handed over the front-door key to the carpenter:

“This is your house,” he said, “It is my gift to you!”

What a shock! What a shame! If only the carpenter had known that he was building his own house, he would have done it all so differently. Now he had to live in a home he had built none too well.

So it is with us. We build our lives in a distracted way, reacting rather than acting, willing to put up with less than the best. At important points, we do not give the job our best effort. Then, with a shock, we look at the situation we have created. If we had realised that, we would have done it differently.

All of us are like the carpenter. Our life is like the house. Each day we hammer a nail, place a board, or erect a wall. Let us build wisely. It is the only life we shall ever build. Even if we live for only one day more, that day deserves to be lived graciously and with dignity.

We can build the life we want. It will exactly reflect our attitudes and the choices we make – today and tomorrow.

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