There was a great story on NPR yesterday. A new navy ship was christened that was constructed from 7.5 tons of steel that used to be part of the World Trade Center.
The boat can hold up to 800 Marines and will take them wherever Marines need to go. I wonder what it was like in that factory when the twisted steel came in. I wonder what the ship builders thought as they crafted and heated and bended the old material into a brand new something.
In one sense we could call this recycling - taking something that was meant for the garbage and modifying it to be used anew. But I think there's a more profound lesson.
Often times, when disappointment strikes and our hopes are dashed, we long for a clean slate. Our heart gets broken and we decide to move to a new city. We don't get the job and we question our passions and talents. The diagnosis is confirmed and we decide to live an entirely new life.
But there are never brand new starts in life. It's too complicated. Resumes, friendships, and ideas never really disappear. The effect of yesterday leaves too deep a mark on our souls to be forgotten.
When we look at today's rubble and decide to wade through the tattered hopes and dreams before us, we might find something buried deep in the wreckage. Then, by getting to work, we can build a beautiful vessel that takes us towards tomorrow.
This is more than wishful thinking - this is wishful working. Pie-in-the-sky attitudes and admonitions to look on the bright side never get us anywhere. Instead, sitting in the ruins of life with someone and helping them see the potential in their brokenness allows us to help craft a better tomorrow together. Of course, it's messy. But omelets aren't made until eggs are broken, and the sun won't rise tomorrow until we sit through tonight's darkness.
We're lucky if we have someone to help us sift and then build something valuable. The world needs more shipbuilders.
Photo by Atli Harðarson