Bricks and Labor


Earlier this week, I stopped by my dad’s most current job site. He is rebuilding a home, originally built in 1924, that recently burned to the ground after a fire. As I pulled up to the site, I noticed my dad deep in the cement foundation, tossing up burnt pieces of wood, one by one, into the excavator’s shovel. My dad is no stranger to physical labor; hauling, climbing, and digging still remain part of his work even after almost 40 years as a contractor.

On this particular afternoon, seeing this reminder of my dad’s daily labors deeply moved me.  I was struck by the sweat and the dirt on his shirt, the starkness of the burnt scene, the metaphor of rebuilding after a fire, the fact they had to clear away sky-high piles of debris, salvaging reusable materials and discarding the ruined. I asked my dad how they cleared out all the remains of the former house, because it seemed like an impossible task, and he said, “One brick at a time.”

Of all the parts of this sight that impacted me, though, one reflection stands out: that I am the product of his laboring. That everything I am stems from a gift from my parents: my education, my faith, my disposition to my work, and even my new family with J.  This moved me to a profound gratitude, and I became aware of a new sense of responsibility – like a call to action – rising within me, to use these gifts and to maximize these opportunities to build beauty in all the places that I possibly can. Experience, contemplation, gratitude, action, transformation: the pastoral cycle on a construction site.

If seeing my dad laboring for my sake moved me so deeply, how much more moving is a glimpse of God’s laboring and toils and groanings on behalf of each of us? How much more moving is the reminder that everything I am is a gift, given freely from a generous, active, and laboring God? How aware am I of how hard God is working for me, of the innumerable ways God is quietly or not-so-quietly laboring in the world, making all things work together for good?



May the God of Surprises Delight You


This past month, two of my former JV housemates (who met during our JV year!) were married. They asked me to offer a closing reflection and blessing at their wedding mass, which was such a heartfelt and joy-filled opportunity for me to share with their community just how special they are. Today, this final blessing was published on dotMagis, the blog of I am so grateful to LB&B for providing me with the opportunity to share these words. Here is the link

God of Surprises, indeed.