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The Bricklayer

He speedily moves up the path scooting his wooden stool over the now recently finished part of the road he had just completed, moving the stool so often it appears that he hardly sits for a few seconds and then he has to hop the stool again a few feet further. Other workers are all around him, some in front of him preparing the sand, raking and smoothing the section he is moving towards, others bringing and stacking bricks in front of his hands. All of these men move in almost frenzied worry trying to stay ahead of the bricklayer as he just smiles and continues. These men and their nervousness to prepare the path sufficiently with adequate speed to keep just ahead of the bricklayer do nothing to diminish his mood as the casual smile or occasional greeting to a passer-by, always remaining at what seems to be the most peaceful casualness. He continues to move up the road at what seems an almost impossible pace.

So many bricks are being placed so fast his hands are almost a blur as he places one with his right hand, then another with his left; back and forth while he only sways with the most insignificant motion, like the gentle sway of a tree in the afternoon breeze. Less experienced younger men are straining, hurrying to dump wheelbarrows full of bricks right next to and in the path of each of his hands so all the bricklayer needs to do is reach out and take the next brick needing to be placed. The motion involved, and all around the bricklayer seems to suggest that he is delivering exactly what he needs to do in the task he has been given, doing it is a way that is exceedingly appreciated.

Even his boss who watches from a casual distance has a smile of satisfaction watching him, a clear pride for having such a valued worker on his team. For why would the boss of the road construction company give this bricklayer so many helpers if he didn’t think the man was valuable? Other bricklayers at other places along the road seem to be moving much slower and have to go get their own bricks or only have one or two persons helping them.

I think I know this man of my dream, like someone out of my past life’s experience, perhaps a friend I knew years ago, long before I began doing the work I am doing today. When I think of the man of my own memory, in any context, I always see him in my mind with a smile on his face, a cigarette dangling from his mouth, even while running or playing sport. His full-bearded face embracing the smile that seems to always be on his lips, that and the obvious fortitude, his back clearly demonstrating muscular strength only usually seen on the most accomplished power-lifters, yet I know he probably never lifted a single barbell in his life or spent even a minute in the gym. He didn’t need to, he lifted two-pound bricks at least a hundred times a minute all day, every day, his whole adult life.

If someone was to ask me what the bricklayer looks like, I might describe long blond hair, stocky looking like a cross between a short, smoking, bricklaying version of Thor, and maybe what Santa Claus might have looked like when he was in his late twenties? That and the fact he was wearing wooden shoes to his workplace did seem to make him look more like a village farmer in Eastern Europe than anyone a person might expect to see in their normal life today.

Not everybody needed to use the roads he worked on, but for the people who did happen to use these roads, they seemed to be cleaner roads, good roads, roads that were designed to bring destination and protection from the surrounding irregularities of the forests of the countryside and weed lined road edges. These forests that were just a short distance from the road, they are thick growth, touching the autumn skies, giving the layered green canopy a mysterious dark undertone, not frightening, just a tint of unknowing that leaves people with calm reassurance, they receive at least a feeling granted them by walking on the road, the safety of not having to venture forward through the darker unknown forest.  

The many people who passed by the bricklayer greet him, and if they didn’t first, he greeted them, that was when they lifted their heads for a moment from the road to look up at him as they walked by or when he greeted them. Everyone he met he seemed to like and they seemed to like him. The many that even smiled back with a greeting often bordered on genuine appreciation when they came to the place where he was working. For he was a skilled bricklayer, a seasoned road worker, and it has always been an honorable job with what seemed a noble cause; helping the many people who would come by. Maybe not directly helping them, but indirectly for through his obvious talents, the road seemed so smooth and perfectly created? Plus, it was because of his efforts they could travel down this particular part of the road he was working on. Smiles of appreciation for the work he did maintaining the road, laying the bricks on the road they needed to use.

He was not always so good at what he did, it was a skill he had to learn, but his own God-given talents allowed him to hone the skill into something that others seemed to see as truly mystical, almost artistic, even at times miraculous. Yet, he was the first to remind them; “He was only a bricklayer, he just happens to be given some unique skills by God that allowed him to move in a way that a bit faster than most.”

The basic education of bricklaying was taught to all of them the same way, and in that, his own early development which was not much different than any of the other workers around him, everyone learns the same methods, works along the same way, does the same job. But it was not long, perhaps only a single year before he and everyone else around him began to see the talent that laid in wait within, and he became quite fast and methodical at what he did, so much so, even getting a bit of a reputation for being one of the best bricklayers in the region. Maybe this is why his own body took on an image of the sort of strength mimicking the intended security and stability the road was purposed to perform. For let’s not forget, it was a road that brought the people where they thought not only they wanted to go, but needed to go in this junction of their life, in this corner of their soul, was it not? The bricks were merely the individual stepping stones along with a much more complex and calculated system of transportation.

Maybe it was this added strength, the abilities that seemed to come naturally, maybe it was his desire not to just stare down at the ground, or look around at not only the people that came by but anything; the trees, the birds, the children, that prompted him to look at everyone who passed by while also smiling and even enjoying the gifts of each day? An inquisitive spirit to observe rather than just stare at the ground and place brick after brick into its intended spot?

He reached down and pulled the poor person out of the muck, brushed off the dirt, and lifted him back up to his feet, it was quite easy for a man with such strength. To the bricklayer’s amazement, the injured person felt immediately relieved and went his way without even needing to get back on the road. Dashing into the forest with hardly a glance back, a thank you, or even a casual goodbye. Many of his co-workers saw the interaction and stood there in amazement at what transpired, all of them “dumbfounded,” even as much as he himself seemed to be. Were we all really “Founded So Dumb” the bricklayer thought to himself with a chuckle?

Suddenly while even still standing in the muck, our good bricklayer noticed another up along the road who also had fallen also into the muck, in the overgrown gulley that he hardly ever noticed was even along the edge next to the road. A great deal many people lying there, most face down struggling to even draw breath, many trying to push themselves with weak arms out of wet mud, or kicking in a slippery black tar-like stench trying to crawl out, all were in pain, all were crying and suffering. But also, he saw from this vantage point, the most subtle irregularities that were in the road, what seemed like the many slight flaws that were there, especially along the edge that may have caused these poor people to stumble and then fall into the ditch in the first place?

His first thoughts were to help some more of these poor people up ahead who had fallen, but there seemed to be so many, and with each step forward more and more came into his awareness as he looked up along the edge of the road. A few even tumbled into the ditch even in the place he just exited another. In front and behind him the gulley hidden in the weeds along the road stretched before him like some dark sewer hidden in the recesses of a weed-infested swamp.

The first few he came to, he tried to help them in the same way he had helped the first one. Some of these individuals would get up and walk away happy, content in the same way the first guy did. Many others would quickly climb back onto the road and continue down the same path often with hardly a glance back. A few of the people who did get back on the road, he noticed, would immediately hit another flaw in the road and tumble right back into the ditch again. There were a very few who even refused his help altogether, demanding he leaves them alone, even pushing his hands away from any help he might offer, only wishing to lie in the ditch, to cry and suffer. It became immediately obvious that many of these particular few seemed to be in the ditch by their own choosing, not wishing to leave, seemingly feeling a liking to the attention they received from their aching cries or complaints. They complained about being covered in mud while taking the same black filth and wiping it on themselves?

After a while of attending to the first people he helped out of the ditch, he went back to his bricklaying job but also started to fix a few of the flaws he had witnessed in his direct vicinity, and at the end of his shift reported back to his boss about what he found. The first reaction of the boss was positive, but quickly changed, and soon it became evident, if not directly, but eventually in writing; “That he wasn’t getting paid to help people out of the ditch, he was getting paid to lay bricks, at least to concern himself with the people using the road, and that’s all.”

But how could he ignore all the people in the ditch, in his heart, he couldn’t just leave them there, so he helped them anyway, explaining each in their turn how to avoid the flaws the road seemed to have. It became evident to everyone, including the boss, if he spent so much time helping the people out of the ditch, he couldn’t lay as many bricks as efficiently as before, at first his pay suffered, but soon he was called back again into the office with the boss.

The boss expressed concern he wasn’t working as efficiently as he had been before, it seemed the result was there were fewer people needing to use the road as often? But the bricklayer explained, while that may be true, his primary work was helping the people on the road, wasn’t that why he was there in the first place? Plus, he was still able to lay more bricks than his colleagues, he was, in truth, laying a much more positive road now without the flaws, safer for the people to continue down without as much risk to fall along the way. Fewer people falling off the road, meant a better road, and ultimately a better reputation for the boss and the company? Perhaps this may ultimately lead to more people wishing to use their road?

One thing was for sure, this explained why everyone who used the road seemed to stare at the ground, maybe it was perhaps they sensed the flaws or at least were fearful of them, either way, the flaws seemed everywhere, in the middle, in the beginning, at every turn, but especially along the edges. Maybe that is why everyone who used the road seemed depressed, their eyes were being digressively focused into the ground!

Before the conversation was over, as an added bonus, the bricklayer presented the boss with a written report of the various flaws he found in the road, a quick note of the few he had already helped, even a few letters from some of them, along with simple techniques and cost-effective changes that could eliminate the flaws forever throughout the company so others would not fall into the ditch. The boss thanked him for the list, then fired him on the spot and told him if he said anything about what was said regarding his time working on the road, any of the people he helped in the ditches or the flaws, he would sue him and do everything in his power to ruin or destroy the bricklayer as well as his family. The boss threw his papers in the trash and said with a smirk; “If you don’t like it take me to court.”

The bricklayer went to work for other companies, for he was a bricklayer, and he needed to feed his family. But he quickly found many of the same flaws and likewise people in the ditches along the roads, some with terrible issues, sicknesses even cancers often caused by again the faults or the black tar-like toxins of the road. How could he ignore them, especially the crying pleas of the suffering children? All of them he helped, he even begged not to tell anyone, especially the bosses, of the help they received, because he knew it would mean his job, but they always seemed too, or someone standing off to the side would see and report him, and of course, within moments of these reports, he would find himself sacked again? He lost job after job, position after position, and even found out one day his original boss was calling ahead and slandering the bricklayer with lies to convince the new bosses to fire him immediately.

All the major and most of the successful companies quickly began to ignore his pleas, the smaller ones didn’t seem to dare to contemplate such a seemingly radical thought or willing to go against the wishes of his first boss. When it came to even admit the flaws were there, even though many of the larger companies, frankly the entire industry, reluctantly did admit it already existed. Many of the bosses and other bricklayers for that matter were reluctant to use the roads themselves, knowing in their hearts the flaws that existed.

Soon they even turned away from his offer for service in any way, not being interested in his bricklaying skills at any price, often telling him he was overqualified to lay the bricks and they needed a younger person, someone in their words; “They could mold into the model and beliefs of their company!” It became evident to the bricklayer that the big bosses not only wanted but may have intentionally designed the roads to cause people to fall into the ditches in the first place, seemingly wanting the people to lie in the ditch and suffer. Those poor souls became, as it were, prisoners of the road! Somebody did design the flaws and dug those ditches that were along the road, didn’t they?

Quickly and finally the bricklayer realized the only way he could have any hope of really helping anyone avoid the traps that seemed to be lurking in the ditches along the roads, was to start his own road making company. No need to have a ditch if the people didn’t fall off the road, and if the flaws were gone, no stumbling, people could look up when they used his road, faithful that no flaws were there. But here too, all the contracts for the roads were being sponsored by the big contracting companies, any payments for the bricklaying needed to go through them, and they would not pay him unless he held to the strict designs of the roads; they wanted their constructs to include everything they expected from the other companies which clearly included the ditches and especially flaws.

The bricklayer went on and started just helping the people out of the ditches, preparing the roads where he could, often on his own or even in secret. And while the many people in the ditches were pleasantly thankful for what he did for each of them individually, nobody ever offered him any supportive thanks for his help, not even a bite to eat or a drink of a cup to help feed his children. They all seemed to look at him with confused looks; “doesn’t or shouldn’t your boss pay you to help us since we all fell while using the road, are you not a bricklayer, isn’t it your job to fix the road?”

The big bosses seemed to not pay him any attention anymore, yet they did actually the opposite and paid close attention to his every move, secretly scheming and coordinating slander all around him, attempting to destroy him and his family any chance they had, remaining true on their promise; “To destroy him and his family if the bricklayer didn’t do exactly what they said.” Without putting his finger on exactly what or when the bricklayer himself seemed to have increasingly bad financial luck and suffer setbacks all around. People stealing from him, even the little he had, doors closing for no apparent reason, promises made for business or help, and then suddenly nothing as these good people just vanished. It was as if a carpet would be placed under him to give him hope and then suddenly be yanked out from under him for no other reason than to watch him fall.

The old boss kept making up reasons to pull him into court, all along laughing because he didn’t care win or lose, breaking the bricklayer was his goal. Could it be possible the big bosses are trying to destroy his family like some jealous beast only wanting to take that few peddles, his meager garden of land, that single blooming flower, or some precious lamb he happens to have, just because they happen to want it, rather than use one of the many they had, or rather than looking at the vast forest they possess, the great abundances they have their own yards? It didn’t make sense.

One day as he worked secretly fixing the ditches along the road a great leader of the land came by, a truly good man who not only loved the land and its people in word and promise but expressed it in every thought and deed he performed. He had been gone for a while and now it was time for him to return. He spots the bricklayer digging along the ditches, sweating hot in the sun, straining on the shovel, dirty, worn, and tired. “When did you become a ditch digger?” the great man asks as he looks on to the bricklayer leaning tired and heavy against the shovel?

“I’m not a ditch digger, I pulled a person out of this ditch and now I’m repairing the land here because these ditches catch people in the muck and mire.” “Maybe if I fix a little of the land here, get rid of the mud, when the people fall in they won’t get so stuck?” “That’s my thought, anyway?”

“Does it work?” the rich man says.

“I don’t know I just got started.”

“Who’s paying you to do that?” the man asks with a confused look on his face.

“Nobody, as a matter of fact, if the people who make the roads knew I was doing it they would probably call the police to stop me.”

“Well, I’m not trying to stop you, but I have come here to try to help you.” “I’m giving you some solid gold bricks so you can go build a road the right way, one that will get people to their destinations without fear or flaws, so they don’t have to look down while they walk but can venture down this path with their heads held high and see all the wonders God has given each of them on every glorious day of their journey.”

“I tried that before,” the bricklayer said, “but my old boss and his powerful friends shut me down like a spider with a great web, every turn I make, try to destroy my very family, I fear for them.”

“Yes, I know,” the Good and powerful leader says, “but you need not worry about your old boss, I am very aware of what he has done. For that man thinks this is his land, and he can do what he wants, but it is My land, and I will deal with him directly.”

“Why are you doing this?” the bricklayer asks, almost not hardly believing what he was hearing?

“Two reasons; one, because the very first person you helped out of the ditch, I don’t know if you remember, but it was me.” The man says with a smile that doesn’t border on any pride but mere fact as if the bricklayer should have realized it all along.

“I do remember the first person and while it was a while ago, I don’t remember him looking like you, but again it was a while ago,” the bricklayer says with a little confusion.

“When you do it for any of my subjects, especially the least of these, you do it for me.” “For, I am the King of these lands.”

“But the second reason I am giving you these golden bricks is simple; because you are a bricklayer.” He smiled and reached into his coat and pulled out the first solid gold brick. Handed it to the bricklayer and took the shovel from the bricklayer’s hands and turned to walk away.

“Wait, what road and where do you want me to lay this brick?”

The King turned back and with the sweetest most loving smile a good Father ever gave his son as he said; “I will let you know.”

But the answer like the dream is simple; I am the bricklayer, and the care had literally become as laying bricks, the flaw and the traps are in the road and the organizations that profit from their participation. Try as I might, I couldn’t get the bosses to agree to change the flaws in the road, and when I fixed them anyway, I was cast aside, on more than a dozen occasions. I am persecuted even today.

The threats are real, the attacks are as well, and while I do not mention names, or companies, or even industries, it is not to protect the innocent but to protect the identities of my loved ones and the people who happen to experience freedom from this tyranny. For the system has created a temple or in this case, a road, where people may come and travel down, intending to experience healing, but all they receive is deceit, suffering, and imprisonment. Despair and Hopelessness; these seem to be the promptings this road propagates and certainly the ditches the people find themselves in.

By Peter Colla

Revised from earlier writing A Bricklayer’s Dream

“Dear Lord thank you for the many souls you have so graciously placed in my path, allowing me to help, granting me the privilege to assist in their healing and thereby heal myself.”

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