I don’t know anything about construction. I love watching television shows like This Old House, but when it comes to actually doing construction work, I’m more lost than Jerry Falwell at a gay pride event.
So, I was a bit shocked to find myself two stories in the air straddling a couple of trusses in an attempt to put plywood on a new roof. Some friends from church had decided to turn their 1 story house into a 1½-story house. To save money they had decided to do the work themselves, with the help of their church friends.
From the beginning, the project seemed much larger than it had appeared on paper. Panicked, my friends pleaded for additional help. We responded in force. It was a rag tag group of volunteers to be sure. Among the many volunteers, there was a Ph.D. candidate in history, a graphic designer, and a seminary student (that would be me). If you were to look at us as physical specimens, you would not exactly imagine physical labor as something we’d excel at.
(Speaking of physical specimens, I’m still upset that I was forbidden to remove my shirt for fear that my painfully white chest would blind someone. I care about workplace safety as much as the next guy, but it was bloody hot out there.)
What we lacked in experience, we made up for in spunk. It turned into an old-fashioned barn raising (minus the square dance and flirting with your cousin). This is church at its finest – people coming together to help others out.
After one of the longer days, the academic, the designer and myself were hanging out reminiscing about the day’s events. There is a sense of pride you gain from helping to build something, especially when you know the act of building is helping someone else. Not only had we helped build the top of a house, but we had bonded with each other as well. It was empowering to do something like that.
Not only had I helped a friend out, but I had also learned that if I get too jaded by Christian ministry, I will always have a future in roofing.