Good Work

My Daddy has a great story about getting kicked out of school.


When he was homeschooled.

While his mother was busy with his brother and sister, he'd slip out the back door and ride his bike around the cow-paths. Finally Grandma gave up and told him "Go ahead and grow up to dig ditches." I can just hear her saying that, too. Grandma was quite a lady.


As a member of the board of directors for our townhouse association, Andrew's been pretty busy over the last week or so.

There's a bunch of rotten trim on some of the units, and we've hired a contracting company to replace it all. The crews are doing very high quality work... on about a third of affected boards. Now they've started caulking tidily over the rotten wood, and they're asking for clarification about paint colors. Andrew and the other board members have been going crazy trying to make sure they actually do the carpentry work, and don't just paint right over wood that's so soft you can stick your finger through it.

It's... been... very... frustrating.

I'm not sure what's going on--if they're trying to cheat us, or if there's some serious miscommunication, or what. And you know, I really don't want to know--wise as serpents, harmless as doves and all that. But what kills me is that every bit of this project is being done by human beings, made in the image of God. Human beings, made in the image of God, endowed by their Creator with reason, called by Him to rule the earth with order and reason in a glorious display of His magnificence... and they're skillfully caulking over squishy rotten wood.

We'll get the work done, one way or another. But the human tragedy makes me sick inside.


The spectre of ditch-digging kept driving Daddy back to his lessons... but the lovely hills of the Brazillian countryside would ever lure him out again.

Finally Grandma gave up for good, and sent him to a Christian boarding school back in the States. You know what they say about homeschooling not being for everyone? I guess it must be true.


We have a new landscape maintenance guy. I waved hello while I was out getting something from the car, and he put down his rake and offered a firm handshake. Exuding courtesy and professionalism, he spoke with me about his vision for improving the quality of the landscape. He was still waiting for some of his equipment, so at the moment he was only able to water those lawns which happened to have hoses right there, but he assured me that he would soon get the grass nice and green for us. He also mentioned that he was looking forward to getting a leaf blower... but in the meantime, it was obvious that he was cheerfully and thoroughly getting the job done with the limited tools at hand.

A few days later, I saw him out front again. "I see you've got your leaf blower now."

He grinned back at me. "I'm like a kid with a new toy!"


Off at boarding school, Daddy found a deep relationship with Christ, and became an earnest scholar, a serious thinker, and just the sort of young man to make any mother proud.

But his first job out of college was digging ditches, and Grandma never did let him forget it.


We went camping last weekend. We've been thinking so very hard about so many important things--I was looking forward to a break. But I guess the wilderness is not always a resting place. Sometimes it's simply the space to see where you've been all along. We thought about our thinking, and we thought some more, and most of it came back around to what we really want for our kids, educationally speaking. I guess it's just more of that same conversation that started in the writing center in Sutherland Hall, nine years ago.

We thought and we thought, and we talked and we talked, and you know what I realized? It really doesn't matter to me what work my children do. I want them to do good work, and I want them to do it well. If they grow up to dig ditches, that's just fine with me, as long as they bring the full and glorious dignity of their humanity to bear on their ditch-digging.

Perhaps they'll be doctors or lawyers or engineers... I hope to provide them with an education that will open up whatever vocational doors they choose to walk through. But oh, when they are stronger, and can choose what they're to do....

Mr. Stevenson, I hope they'll go 'round at night and light the lamps with you.

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