On one end of my street, construction workers are knee-deep in building a multi-million dollar library. On the other end, a multi-million dollar fire station will soon have firefighters sliding down the poles they are staking in the ground.
It is a mess. Literally.
As I’ve walked by the construction zones on casual strolls through my neighborhood these last couple months, sometimes I fixate on the piles of dirt and the fork lifts and the lumber and the whatever-else-they-need to build something out of nothing. It sounds normal to have one of these huge projects happening on a little street, but to have two mega construction zones like bookends on Rowanberry Drive, someday soon to hold all the houses in place, well, it feels wildly wobbly and disruptive.
Some days, I want so badly to be the person with vision for the beautiful future, vision for those piles of bricks that will surely grow legs and walk into place. I walk by the construction and only have eyes for the temporary porta potties lined up, but I want to make myself dream of the stacks of books lined up on the future shelves. I will force myself to mediate on the truth, repeating in my head as I walk by, “It takes time…building takes time…”
We don’t like to wait to design and build new construction, new buildings, or new resources. We like instant results, as I learned in Italy that it takes a special mindset for the capacity to build beautiful cathedrals brick-by-brick over multiple generations. It’s the reason the architectural firm designing the new library released a virtual sneak peek of the coming attraction. Why would we wait for the grand opening, the ribbon-cutting ceremony and the first push through the new doors when we could just take an instant virtual tour?
And the part of this story that I love is the part about the man jogging. In the midst of the construction zone, the laying of bricks and the planting of new trees and the building of new walls, I have seen the man jogging down our street at exactly the right moments. It wrecks me.
Maybe God speaks to you in different ways, but he speaks to me through piles of dirt and porta potties and the man jogging.
I can almost hear a whisper in the wind, Don’t give up. Keep showing up. Stay. Just trust me, building beauty takes time.
In a recent episode of Cultivated, a podcast about faith and work, David Taylor made a comment about human complexity developing over time, and our unwillingness to sit with complex art that doesn’t offer immediate meaning and answers in a similar uncomfortable way that we act with humans. He said something that stuck with me: “You can’t just go to bed at night and think, ‘I’ve got my wife figured out…I’ve got my kids figured out…’ I don’t. It’s always this labor of love, of leaning in… It all comes back to love… Loving time and letting time do its good work over time.”
I want the rebuilding to stop. I want the construction zones cleaned up, the piles of dirt spread out and the porta potties gone forever, and I want to skip to the part with the finished, polished product, the part where my neighborhood comes alive with two new community centers. But that would mean I am skipping the process.
I hate the part where we have to keep showing up, keep jogging down the little street past the mess, praying step-by-step to make it to the part where we get to see the whole picture, when the plans and the dreams come to life.
The part where the bricks come together to build that beautiful future.