A Tale of Three Houses

Long ago, a builder decided to erect a structure that he intended to last for several centuries.  He planned it to house those of his family who had nowhere else to go.  He drew long plans for the house, then set to work.  Shortly afterward, there were twelve men and a woman who came to help.  The builder looked around his neighbourhood, and saw that several of the older structures which had been originally built simply and well, had fallen into disrepair, and were overcrowded with objects.  The people who lived in those buildings valued the objects more than the houses, or even their own lives.  Animals, large and small, were allowed to live in the houses as well, and there were several competing landlords, even within one house.

The builder told his helpers:  “If anything should happen to me, before the house is finished, Mr. Rock will lead the crew.  Make sure that only one of you is the landlord.”  The helpers were a bit puzzled by that comment, but kept on with their work, day by day- with the woman often encouraging the men.  One day, the builder was set upon by some competing contractors, who had been cued in, as to his plans, by one of the crew members, who was not satisfied with his wage.  The builder died of his injuries, three days later.  Mr. Rock tried to carry on, after the builder was laid to rest, but several of the crew left to build houses of their own, saying they could do better than Mr. Rock.

Mr. Rock managed to finish his great house, but over time, his successors added rooms and overstocked the house with furniture and glittering objects.  The poor were cast out, and found their way to several other houses, which various former crew members had built.  The original house still stood, over several centuries, somewhat strong and sturdy, but a shadow of its former self.

St. Peter’s Basilica

In time, another builder, in a nearby neighbourhood, noticed the various homes that had been built centuries earlier.  He determined to build a grand house, similar to the originals of the others.  This would house the good-hearted  of his family, and would be a place where learning and science were valued.  He also gathered several helpers, all men.  The builder had two crew leaders- one to help with the building itself and the other to organize the men.  He said that, if anything happened to him, before the house was completed, that the crew leader responsible for the building itself would take his place.  This did not set well with the supervisor of the men, who thought that he, alone, would build a house grand enough to dominate the whole city.  He would do this by being hard and tough, and punishing those who disagreed with him.

As it happened, as the house was nearing completion, the builder took ill with a fever.  As he was languishing in bed, his building supervisor came to him and asked, “Master, what would you have me do?”  The builder responded, in a weak voice, “Carry on, as I have asked.”  Just then, the supervisor of the men entered the room.  “The master is weak and confused.  He knows not what he is saying.  I shall take charge now!”  The men listened and by, force of numbers, banished the building supervisor and his small group of helpers to an outlying area of the city.  No sooner had the builder died of his fever, than the two supervisors began to build houses of their own.  The supervisor of the crew finished the original house, and grand it was!  The original building supervisor built his own house, several blocks away, but encouraged his tenants to visit the original great house and always look to it as a model.  As time went on, others built similar houses of their own, separately from the two former crew mates.

The Grand Mosque of Mecca

Many, many years thereafter, two builders appeared on the scene.  The first builder constructed a small, but elegant cottage- which was finished at considerable peril to himself and many of his helpers.  The residents of the last great house’s building supervisor’s domicile made many attempts to stop the completion of the little cottage.  They even killed the new builder and many of his crew.

The second of the two new builders, however, was the one with a greater set of plans.  The old home’s residents prevailed on the building inspector to chase this new architect from one neighbourhood to another.   After several years, he and his crew landed in an old and decaying city, far from the place where he had grown and had worked with his colleague.  His idea, however, was to build a great palace, where there was room for all who wished to live there.  So, he set to work ,beginning the great palace- surviving attacks from several followers of the earlier builders, from his own former chief lieutenant and from the various building inspectors.

All this exhausted the Master Builder, and he left completion of the Palace to his eldest son and further descendants.  He left a message, before leaving this world, that those who wished, should live there in peace and harmony, for at least a 1,000 years.  Those who wished to leave the Palace could do so, but they would be on their own.  The building of the Great Palace goes on, to this day, and will continue for some time to come.  Occasionally, some crew members go off, to build their own “palaces”, but with no plans, is it any surprise that these turn out to be hovels?  For without attention to the plans that work, how can a home be made to last?

Shrine of al-Bab, Haifa, Israel

Shrine of Baha’u’llah, Bahji, Israel

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