Summary: A guy and a woman – old class mates – are each building a house. They meet by chance at a coffee shop, and discuss their plans.
Style: Dramatic, with a light touch.    Duration: 8min
Scripture: Matthew 7: 24-27 (parable of the wise and foolish builders)
Actors: 1M, 1F

 Cast: Sandy and Peter


 Scene: the coffee shop in a hardware store.

Props: two chairs set at a small table, two cups of take-out coffee.

 (Sandy enters, carrying a hammer, bag of nails and a cup of take-out coffee. She sits down at a small table. Peter enters, with a two-by-four and a cup of coffee. He sits beside her.)

 Sandy: O hi, Peter. Long time no see. Join me for coffee?

 Peter: Thanks, Sandy. Don't mind if I do. It's good to sit for a while. Isn't it funny we should run into each other at the home building store?

 Sandy: Actually, now that I see you, I’m having all these flashbacks to when we were in Grade 7 together. You remember those wood shop classes we took? Remember Mr. Finn, the shop teacher?

 Peter: Old nine-and-a-half-finger Finn! Who could forget old man Finn? Imagine hiring a guy with nine and a half fingers to teach wood shop!

 Sandy: He used to say that his missing half-finger was all the credentials he needed.

 Peter: I guess he was right. He sure taught us to respect power tools.

 Sandy: And he put the fear of God into us if we used a screwdriver for a chisel. But that was a long time ago, and I wish I could remember now even half of what I knew then.

 Peter: Me, too. I mean, I've been dabbling around carpentry for a few years now, patching up the old house Louise and I bought. Some dry walling, fixing a few shingles, painting and wallpapering. But now we're into the real thing. It's a bit intimidating.

 Sandy: It sure is! We're building a house, too. Actually, Steve and I haven't even had the practice of doing house repairs. We've been renting all these years. So we’re really swimming in the deep end!

 Peter: I'm not doing much more than treading water. It's a good thing they have those manuals. Actually, I got most of mine from the library, plus the plans I got at the hardware store and lots of unsolicited advice from my well-intentioned father-in-law.

 Sandy: I'm hiring a contractor for most of it. But I really wanted to do something on my own, so I'm working on the trestles for the roof. I know it will take me ten times longer, but I want a hand in the thing. I want it to be our house. Besides, I've got time on my hands, and Steve is working around the clock. Say, what design have you chosen for your house?

 Peter: It's called "Hopeful Depression". It's supposed to be able to withstand any kind of catastrophe. They said it was designed by people who had lived through the dirty thirties, and who knew some things would fall apart in our lives, but if you have a firm foundation, heck, the rest is just window dressing. They designed the house on that basis. IT sort of fits my approach to life. You never know what's going to come your way. You have to be able to roll with the punches. Let the shingles fly off now and again. But have a strong foundation. And you can handle anything. And you?

 Sandy: My design is called "Flight of Fancy". It's airy, with lots of windows. It was designed by a poet. And, like you, the house design suits my personality.

 Peter: You haven’t changed a bit, Sandy. So tell me, where are you building this house of yours?

 Sandy: We bought a lovely lot right on the beach. Honestly, I couldn't believe how little it cost! There's nothing there but the shell of an old house that someone else built some time ago. Just someone's memories, I guess. But to us, it's a wonderful spot. We get the most glorious sunsets there. When the water is calm, it's just like glass. I swear, you can almost see the reflection of God out there. What about you? Where are you building?

 Peter: The Pre-Cambrian shield. That rock has not moved in so many millions of years, even God can't remember how old it is. Yep, that's our lot. On a flat rock surface, surrounded by huge spruce trees, with steel posts blasted into the rock for a base for the house, with a well and a good road. Do you have a well, Sandy?

 Sandy: I have no idea, Peter. I never thought about that.

 Peter: What about the foundation?

 Sandy: Foundation? I don't know that we have one. Or even need one. I mean every time I've been out there, the weather has been perfect. You don't think ... you don't mean ... it could get rough out there, do you? Honestly, I never thought about that.

 Peter: I don't mean to rain on your house, Sandy. But, yes, it does get bad out there. Storms come up on the lake, just like they do in life. That's what I meant when I talked about my house. It's designed to withstand anything. It's built on a firm foundation, and what damage there may be can easily be fixed.

 Sandy: Peter, you're so practical. Honest to God, things can't get that bad.

 Peter: Honest to God? How honest do you want me to be, Sandy? Honest to God, life is not always easy. And it can get that bad.

 Sandy: I'm sorry if I stepped on a nerve somewhere, Peter.

 Peter: No, I'm sorry I jumped on you. I just know that foundations are not what they seem. I built a house on sand once. And it fell, and for a long time I didn't know what to do with my life.

 Sandy: You built a house on sand? Then you can give me some good advise.

 Peter: Only one piece. Don't build your house on sand. Physically, metaphorically, spiritually, don't do it. (pause) Like I said, I built one on sand. Not a real house, mind you. My life. But it amounts to the same thing. I had a great life. For a while. Good job. Good marriage. Or so I thought. Then it all fell apart. I lost my job, I turned to the bottle to drown my sorrows, my first wife left me. I still had a house, but I had no foundation.

 Sandy: What happened? You seem OK now - or you did before I stepped on that nerve of yours.

 Peter: One night I was drinking myself to sleep. And I looked at the bottom of the glass and I saw myself. You know how a glass bottom is never smooth, but kinda distorted? That was me. I saw how I had become twisted around. I didn't know who I was anymore. It was awful, Sandy.

 Sandy: What brought you out of it? Assuming something did.

 Peter: This may sound crazy to you. But God brought me out of it. It wasn't magical or anything. I didn't go to a miracle worker and get zapped. Actually, I picked up my Bible, the one I got in Grade 5 and hadn’t read. And I started to read it. A lot of it didn't make much sense to me. But someone suggested I read the Sermon on the Mount. You know, the Beatitudes and all that? Well, I didn't understand much of it. I think Jesus must have been a poet. You might get it better than me. But finally I got to this story that he told. About two men who each built houses. One on sand and one on rock.

 Sandy: This sounds vaguely familiar.

 Peter: Does it ever! The wise man built on the rock.

 Sandy: Of course!

 Peter: And the foolish man built his ...

 Sandy: Don't tell me... on sand! Peter, are you preaching a sermon here?

 Peter: Only the one I've been preaching to myself for the last five years. Sandy, the only difference between those two builders was that one knew the storms and floods would come. And the other did not. And that was me. My storms had come, and I was totally unprepared for them. God taught me a lesson. I finally got some perspective in my life.

 Sandy: You got religion?

 Peter: I got hope. That's more important than religion. Hope is like faith. It gives you strength to withstand the storms. And once I understood that, it all made sense to me. It was all about hope. The bible is full of stories of people who had storms. Big ones. You know, Sandy, you can't buy hope in a hardware store. You can't even build a house that will last forever. And God will not stop the storms from coming. But hope and faith can give you a foundation that nothing can destroy.

 Sandy: Peter, I am so glad we had this conversation. I have been listening. Really listening. I need to talk with Steve about our house plans. Maybe we can find a nice lot someplace else.

 Peter: On rock?

 Sandy: On rock!


 Copyright Jim Hatherly

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