As a member of my alma mater's alumni advisory council, I was invited to attend this event. Being there brought back memories of my days in that same auditorium, of sitting in the quiet foyer of the building to study before my next class. And it reminded me of how proud I felt to be there, how inspired and motivated I was to succeed.
As the president spoke, I was inspired all over again. He began by telling the story of three bricklayers building a cathedral. Perhaps you've heard it — I had not. The story goes something like this:
A man happened along three bricklayers busy at work. He asked the first bricklayer, "What are you doing?"
"I'm laying bricks," the first bricklayer said.
The man asked the second bricklayer the same question.
"I'm putting up a wall," was the reply.
The passerby then posed the question to the third bricklayer.
"What are you doing?" he asked.
"I'm building a great cathedral," the third bricklayer replied.
The president then suggested that each employee at the college should be engaged in their work and focused on the big picture. Whether their job is cleaning restrooms or filing records or teaching a class or selling a textbook, they should realize that each of those acts plays a part in shaping and aiding the education and future of a student.
Last year, I contacted my alumni association with the hope of finding a way to volunteer — to give back to the institution that had done so much for me. Recently I met with other planning committee members to stuff envelopes for invitations to our fall fundraiser. While that act itself may seem small and insignificant, the money raised at that fundraiser will mean everything to the scholarship recipient who is able to graduate from college. That's the big picture I try to focus on. That's my proverbial cathedral: a student beaming brightly while wearing a cap and gown and going on to a successful life.
Yes, the bricks are important; they are the building blocks, the foundation of whatever work we do. We just need to see beyond the singular brick, the isolated act, and realize that it's a part of the whole. Just imagine a brick wall riddled with empty spaces where bricks were left out. Those missing bricks would compromise the strength and integrity of the wall. Each brick, each person, each job is an imperative part of the whole.
If you can't see your cathedral for the bricks, maybe it's time to look for purpose in what you do — or dedicate yourself to doing something different. Determine to look at the big picture and recognize the importance of what you do each day. Don't lay bricks; build a great cathedral.
Are you laying bricks today? Or building a cathedral? Please share your thoughts in the comments.