One day, not long after we moved into the Rectory at Saint Luke’s Parish, one of my daughter’s friends—a young driver—was backing out of the driveway late at night and hit the column on the end of the old stone wall that ran along the road.
The end-column, about a foot higher than the low wall, was pushed back off its foundation, opening a six-inch gap. An ugly gash. I was upset because it was such a beautiful stone wall, and I wondered how we could fix this. I thought, Somehow we’ve got to lift this end column and move it back in line with the wall.
Now, if you’re thinking, “What kind of numbskull are you, to think you or anybody would be able to lift a ton of rock and turn it back in place?”, you’d be right. It’s crazy. But I didn’t know it at the time.
So I called a friend named Ken Weeks, a retired stone mason and master wall builder. He came over early one morning and I told him my plan—to move the one-ton column back in place. And Ken, bless him, didn’t say, “Anderson, You’re nuts!” He just said, “Let me see what I can do.” And I went on to work and left the master with my broken wall.
When I came home that night the wall was beautifully itself again. So I called Ken, and I said, “How did you get that column back in place?” And he said, “I just took about a dozen rocks and small stones and filled in the little gap—took me about 20 minutes.” I went out to look closer, and sure enough, he had just finessed it with a few stones.
I sat on my haunches staring at this mended wall, and thinking, That’s the difference between a crazy, driving energy to make something perfect, to get it back to its original state—so help me God!—and the wise energy that just knows that walls get hit and bruised and wounded, just like people do—and you can’t always make them exactly like they were before the injury. It’s not always possible.
But you can heal the wound, you can pour in love, and the thing will be whole again. It won’t be perfect, but it will be forever after a work of love, a stone wall or a man or a woman with a story to tell.