“Window frames with glass?”
“Doors, front and back?”
“Nails, various sizes?”
“That went out with the ice age, but if you insist, check.”
“Paint, several shapes of blue?”
“Reminds me of the sea. You know; tranquility, sea birds, setting sun, and all that.”
“Right. Anything else?”
Mr. MacLean scanned his list, and seeing only checkmarks, sighed in relief.
“Nope, everything is present and accounted for. Tomorrow we begin to build.”
And so it was that as soon as dawn broke the next day, MacLean’s crew began work on his fine brick house nestled among the trees by the river. Day after day, they toiled. The weeks past as the investment of McLean’s lifetime took form before his proud eyes.
MacLean was a fine man, upstanding and well respected in his community. He gave generously of his time, and his considerable wealth, to support charities and worthy causes of all kinds. People commented that he deserved his new home by the river. It was a tribute to hard work, clean living, and an open hand.
The property had been his own choice, for which he had spent a great deal of money. The sound of the current fascinated him, as it tumbled over the rocks in the shallows of the river. The boathouse would go just to the left of the house so as not to obstruct his view.
As the masterpiece of human art and craft took shape, MacLean did have his moments of concern. The river was not his to control, or to own. There were others who were building nearby. Just off to the right, and higher up on the bluff, another house was under construction.
Just think. I worked all my life for this land and this house, and someone gave this guy that land.
MacLean had seen his soon-to-be neighbour around town. The man wasn’t ashamed to tell everyone of the gift that he had been given. He seemed a man without pride in his accomplishments, though it certainly could not be said that he was any less generous than MacLean himself.
As the summer wore on, the two houses rose together. The townsfolk often came to check up on the progress of each, marveling at their similarities, and their differences.
“Well, they are certainly houses,” commented one observant individual.
Doors, floors and furnishings; in the basics, they looked the same. However, MacLean’s neighbour seemed content to let his house take the shape of the land it sat on, while MacLean made the land conform to the blueprints he had so carefully drawn up.
Finally, the house by the river was finished.
“Mr. MacLean, you got a winner here,” said the foreman as he finished gathering up his tools and his crew. “That guy up there will be feeling some stiff breezes while you enjoy this sheltered corner of the river bank.”
“Yes, indeed, there’s no doubt about it, I have built a great house of which I can be justifiably proud.”
And MacLean entered his house; sat in the expensive furniture he has carefully selected from the finest stores, and watched the river flow by his door.
In November, cold air from the north heralded the coming of the first of the early winter storms. The breezes, about which the supervisor had commented, turned into stiff winds that buffeted the house on the bluff. Down by the river, the trees sheltered MacLean, and he hardly noticed that the climate had changed. He went to sleep in peace, with the sound of the currents filling his dreams.
He awoke to a loud banging on his front door and two inches of water splashing across his bedroom floor.
“MacLean, hurry. The river is rising rapidly. You have to get out now.”
It was the neighbour from the bluff. MacLean flung open the front door. The boathouse was already gone, and his beautiful home was creaking and groaning, already buckling as the swelling tide of river water lashed at its walls and posts.
There was no time to save anything and in what seemed like an eternity of minutes, MacLean found himself in the house on the bluff, watching as the river washed away all that was so valued by him. The water never reached his neighbour’s house.
“Where did I go wrong?”
His neighbour placed a comforting hand on MacLean’s shoulder.
“You wouldn’t have lost anything if you had built on the Rock.”