A pilgrim traveling through medieval France happened on a work site where some stonecutters were busy working. Curious, the traveller stopped to ask the stonecutters about the work they were doing. The first stonecutter he approached was muttering under his breath.
“What are you doing?”, the pilgrim asked.
“What do you want to know about it?”, the stonecutter replied, barely looking up. “I do nothing but break my back all day, slaving over these stones with cheap instruments. I put them where they tell me and I go home when they tell me. I do it without any thanks and for very little pay. ”
The pilgrim quietly backed away, so as not to offend the fellow any further. He saw another stonecutter whistling as he worked.
“What are you doing?”, the pilgrim asked the second stonecutter who looked up and smiled.
“Just working to make a living. I cut these stones all day to support my beautiful wife and family back in the village. It’s not exciting work but it’s honest and it puts food on the table. I know many able bodied men who struggle to find work and this job pays regularly so I feel pretty blessed.”
The pilgrim was about to leave when he saw a third stonecutter. This one was working quietly and intensely. His hands were quick and precise.
“What are you doing?”, asked the pilgrim.
The third stonecutter was so engrossed in his task that he didn’t even hear the pilgrim.
“What are you doing?”, the pilgrim asked, louder this time.
The third stonecutter looked up to the heaven and whispered, “I’m building a cathedral.”
“There are two types of people,” the trite saying goes, “those that see the glass as half empty, and those that see the glass as half full.” This thought provoking parable, however, introduces a third way of seeing the world: one that is less about how the world impacts us and more about how we impact the world. It is about having a vision that is larger than our selves. Having vision is looking beyond the day to day and seeing the purpose and meaning in what we do. It’s more than merely working toward a goal. As disciples, we are charged with no less than building God’s Kingdom on earth. A monumental task, to be sure, but also a captivating vision that gives purpose to our work beyond how it affects us. When we see our lives as working toward the goal of the Kingdom then it matters not if our glass is half empty or half full, all that matters is that we seek first the kingdom of God. The good news is that knowing we are part of something greater than ourselves, that we are making the world a better place stone by stone, is truly a cup which runneth over.
Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear…