The Carpenter

I'd like to share with you a story about a carpenter who arrives in a strange town and decides to build a house. So he goes to town's leaders.

-- I'm a carpenter and would like to build a house.

-- What kind of house? Asked one of the town's leaders.

-- I'm not sure.

-- Why do you want to build the house?

-- To provide shelter.

The town leaders thought the carpenter was a little strange but they agreed that he could build his house on a patch of land on the city's edge that nobody ever used. This suited the carpenter fine as he preferred the quiet that is so rare in a city's center.

As he left them, each town leader -- even though they did not share their thoughts -- felt a mixture of anxiety and intrigue about the house.

The carpenter set about his work.

Now, there was one thing the carpenter did not share with the leaders. And, as they did not ask, he did not feel compelled to tell them. The carpenter was never trained in the art of carpentry. He just kind of learned a little here and a little there.

One time an elderly gentleman was taking a leisurely Sunday stroll and found himself at the site where the carpenter was building the house. The elderly gentleman watched the carpenter for a while.

-- Are you sure that's the right way to do that? He shouted to the carpenter when he saw him using his tools in a manner he'd never witnessed before. And, as he was a man of quite a few years, he'd seen the tools used often.

The carpenter stopped what he was doing and thought about the elderly gentleman's question.

-- I don't know. It's the only way I know how to do it.

The elderly gentleman shook his head and wandered off, fully believing in the futility of any effort by the carpenter to build anything, much less a house.

But the carpenter continued working away. Before long he had a strong foundation. And not long after that he had the first story of the house built. And he continued working away.

Word of the house began spreading through the town. People had never seen a house like it before. It was made of strange materials and didn't conform to normal house sense. The front door was located on the side and the porch was indoors and it had other such peculiarities. But even though they had not seen a house like it before, most of the townspeople thought it was very interesting and some would walk by it 2 or 3 times a week to look at it and notice new additions. Some didn't care for the house at all and went out of their way to avoid seeing it.

The carpenter continued working away. And more stories were built.

Some of the town's other carpenters, especially ones with impressive degrees of training and years of experience, began to get jealous of the attention the carpenter and his house were getting. Some of them tried to copy the carpenter's style of work and began building houses of their own. But they were too well trained in the traditional ways of carpentry and their work, although similar in some ways on the surface, never captured the interest of the townspeople in the same way.

The carpenter wasn't bothered by this. He was too busy working to really notice. But he did at times notice people from various walks of life trying their hand at doing carpentry of their own. Some were good at it and some were not -- but that's not what the carpenter noticed. He just saw how their creations reflected what was inside them. He liked that.

One day, when the carpenter was on his ladder, someone drove by and threw a rock at him. The rock hit him in the head and the carpenter bled for quite a long time. That night, when he was resting, the carpenter cried because he didn't understand why someone would try to hurt him for building a house that would provide shelter.

But he continued working away. And the house was starting to get quite large. Sometimes the occasional passersby couldn't even see him working -- they could just hear him hammering or sawing or drilling or whatever.

As the house grew, so did the carpenter's reputation. Soon, people from all over the countryside were coming to see the carpenter's house. And the city leaders thought they could profit from the situation. So they built booths next to the site of the house which sold all sorts of goods. And they put up billboards on the roads which gave direction to the house.

The carpenter wasn't very happy about all the ads and booths and the noise they brought but he understood that the town needed to make revenue. And a thought flew through his mind that maybe he should get a percentage of the profits as his house was the main attraction. But then he remembered the reason he was building the house. And he continued working away.

And then some people started to give the carpenter suggestions about how he should build the house. Some wanted him to puts strings of lights on the exterior and some wanted him to build a special room of some kind. The carpenter didn't want to be rude so he listened to their suggestions, and sometimes he would use an idea or two, but only if it made sense. Most of the suggestions weren't used by the carpenter.

Years passed, and the house reached into the heavens. Nobody could see the carpenter but they knew he was still working away. The foundation was so strong that not even a creak was heard when the winds blew strong.

People started to move into the house and found it quite comfortable. As interesting as it was to look at from the outside, the inside was infinitely more intriguing. One could spend an entire day analyzing the details of a banister. And this was not rare. Some made a point of exploring the house and making new and interesting discoveries every day. But most just enjoyed the shelter the house provided and the warmth they felt inside its walls.


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