Carey has been a building site since classes started in March. The floor above us has been gutted and refurbished. It all finishes tomorrow. I've been disrupted much less than others - partly because I've been too busy admiring the skills on display.
Start with the project manager. Every day for months there is this row of vans outside belonging to every kind of sub-contractor. How does he figure-out who needs to be on-site and at what time and in what place? The vision and the teamwork is amazing. Then there are the specialist skills of the plumbers and the electricians, the plasterers and the carpenters, the concrete-cutters and the carpet-layers and the elevator-installers... Having not grown up with tools in my hands, I've wasted a lot of time just watching skilled hands at work.
And that's just what happens once I get to work! Closer to home there is even more admiring going on. Take that extension to the Hillsborough motorway nearby! Watching 'every valley filled; every mountain brought low' to create a road with perfect flatness. WOW! And what about the way they keep the traffic flowing - as they build six overbridges - by creating these temporary roads that skirt around the edge? That is so clever! Only one bridge has been completed so far. I cannot begin to describe the excitement I feel about driving over each of the other five.
"Paul, you are a sick man and need help." Yes I know.
However the more I've reflected on this the more I realise that there is more going on than what meets the eye. While I've admired what people can do with tools and machines in their HANDS, it is not just about hands. It is also about HEADS. There are clever architects behind that building-site. There are brilliant engineers behind that motorway [I know this for a fact because when one visited I forced him into the car for a drive-by the motorway and a view from up Mt Roskill and compelled him to give me a running commentary on all that our eyes surveyed. Thanks Damian ... "and you are still a very sick man, Paul"].
Then when I took a walk around upstairs late yesterday something else dawned on me. It looks so beautiful. Surely the architects and concrete-cutters alike must walk through those rooms and feel a joy and contentment about a job well done. The finished product is a work of art. There is passion and pride and HEART going on here.
So - as I've sat with all this - I think what really inspires me is the integration of hand and head and heart so evident in this final product. The gaps between the three have become so small! And yet it is on this issue that such a melancholy about the prevailing Christian spirituality can overwhelm me. If head and heart and hand in our churches had a race, 'heart' would pip 'hand' at the finish line and 'head' would come a distant third. I fear I might spontaneously combust if I hear someone say once more that what we need today is more 'heart knowledge', not 'head knowledge'. ["Yes, Paul - then you really will be a very sick man"].
There is a better way forward. For argument's sake, take just the 'head' and the 'heart'. We tend to view these to be like two non-overlapping circles. They deal with very different realities. The feeling stuff is here and the intellectual stuff is over there - and never the twain shall meet. What about seeing them more like a single ellipse with two poles? There is still some distinction - but now there is also integration and the opportunity for the gap between the two to become small. Sometimes I find it is as if my heart is feeling deep thoughts and my head is aflame with passionate ideas. "Case closed - you really do need help, Paul!"
While I seek out that help, I am going to keep praying and working to see the people of God engaged in the mission of God looking more like ... ... upstairs.