Today I took up brick-laying. It’s not a skill I’ve had before but this day I felt an instinctive urge to lay some bricks.
Choosing bricks at random, slapping mortar between them, raising a wall as fast as I could, it was all about speed, all about getting walls up, quickly, now, before it’s too late. As four walls rose around me fear started to ebb away. The higher the walls got the more safe I felt. It didn’t matter that they weren’t straight. It didn’t matter that the bricks didn’t match. It only mattered that the walls were up in record time and I felt safe from danger behind them. I finally felt safe enough to breathe.
It wasn’t a big space I’d made for myself. It didn’t have windows or doors. No way to come in or out. Only enough room inside to add more layers of protection if I felt the need.
I felt safe, secure, protected from the missiles of hurt that life and people catapulted at me. Here behind my brick walls I was ok. I was ok. It was all ok.
For a while the security of my walls felt great. I felt some sense of peace and safety. But over time my safe walls I had so quickly, so decisively constructed to preserve myself started to feel like a prison. With no way in or out I felt trapped. The only way to see outside my situation was to look up.
So I looked up.
Caught in my misery and hurt I looked up and saw the gentle face of a carpenter. He reached his hand through the narrow hole above and took mine. “Would you like my help?” he asked with compassion.
I had barely managed a nod when he started to take the bricks from the top of my wall. One by one they disappeared. In between trips from my wall to I couldn’t see where the carpenter would pop his head over the wall and smile gently at me. This brought me peace. Every time I felt fear rise up through my very core as I saw my security disappear brick by brick, his eye would catch mine and courage would fill my soul.
It felt like forever before all the walls were down. It took much longer to bring them down than put them up. Without the carpenter’s comforting presence this would have been a tortuous challenge.
Finally as I sat on bare ground, in the centre of where my walled trap had been, bare, exposed, vulnerable, the carpenter reached out and helped me up. Then the carpenter slowly led me to where he had taken my bricks.
There before me, beautifully laid, was a brick bridge. Only now the bricks weren’t sharp and dangerous but smooth and polished. This bridge was not just a functional piece of engineering but a gorgeous work of art.
The Carpenter spoke, “There are more bricks coming to you. Life and people will launch bricks, hurts at you. This is how life is at times. Only you can choose if you will take these bricks, these hurts and make them into prison walls for yourself or a bridge to others. Building walls will only trap and imprison you. Bridges will empower you to forgive, to reconnect, to help others who also hurt. And when you collaborate with others, your bricks and theirs can combine to make the most spectacular constructions. You can’t choose if you get hurts or how many hurt bricks you get. You can choose what you do with them. It’s all up to you. You choose – prison or bridges.”
Have you had the courage to build bridges when you felt like building walls? Share with us in the comments below.
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