Nancy and I and Rob and Megin were visiting an unfinished nineteenth-century fort. It was almost finished, enough to be safe for tourists a century and a half later. But it had never been finished as a fort. Weapons changed. Built to withstand round cannon balls, it would have been destroyed by cannon shells fired from miles away.
We walked out of the tunnel doorway at the base of fortification. Hand-laid stone stacked without mortar, smaller pieces filling the crack between larger pieces. It was a retaining wall, an embankment on the side toward the river. It was intended to protect the stairway tunnel from the fort to the battery of guns at river level.
Nancy and I each looked at the rock wall and thought, “Nehemiah”. It was the kind of functional construction that the people of Jerusalem accomplished with Nehemiah’s direction. Nothing fancy, not intended for massive weapons, but enough to create a space to pray, a space to defend, a space to catch your breath.
I’m guessing that Nehemiah knew that the wall-building he supervised and the nation-building he led weren’t perfect. The walls weren’t as solid as a master mason would have accomplished. The leadership training, the spiritual discipleship, the human resource plan had to work with the random human sample present rather than a well-recruited staff.
But Nehemiah still looked at his work as a great work. It was a cause worth pursuing even if it the current attempts wouldn’t look great.
I walked along the wall, taking pictures and thinking. I spent a lot of time reflecting about Nehemiah a couple of years ago. But it’s easy to forget lessons you don’t review. I think it may be time to return to his resolve to work hard on a great work.
Rather than wasting time on lesser worries, I mean.