A Cathedral of Words

I wrote this little poem in a minute while listening to a man talk about how bygone builders approached the architecture of angels. He spoke of how they built grand spires and sacred spaces with an expansive imagination for the ages. He challenged us to consider what we were building. Would it last? I thought, I am only telling stories to children. And this came out. It will have to serve for now as the best articulation of my ambition.

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A Cathedral of Words

I cannot, I think, build a great building of any kind,
To last a thousand years.

Not with these hands.

So I will try, in my own way,
To make something that lasts a while.
I will try, I think,
To build a cathedral of words.

But that is too grand.

A cottage is more likely, with washing on the line.
A little home.
Simple meals.
A warm fire.
Happy kids.

A cottage of words.

May it last a little while and lend light to a few tired travelers, moving through whatever darkness,
This industrious world manufactures for them.

A cathedral of words? Perhaps that’s too grand a spire.
But I, bold as a mouse,

So I will build what I can,
And let my children, when they are grey,
Say what it was.


  1. That was lovely, Sam, and just what I needed to hear today as I am deep into planning our upcoming homeschool year and a bit overwhelmed at the moment trying my best to get *it all done.*
    What you are doing is much more amazing, breathtaking and creative than building a structure. Your creation will continue to give and produce great fruit well into eternity.
    Thanks so much for the gentle, lovely reminder of why we do what we do 🙂

  2. Sam, what an awesome picture you paint with this poem. It reminds me that my words can build something beautiful for those around me. Blessings on you, your family and The Green Embers stories which warm mind and body, heart and soul.

  3. As a homeschool mom to 5 boys, I cannot tell you how reassuring these words are. There are days I wonder why in the world I do what I do…but then I get little reminders like this that every day I get to spend with my children is a precious gift for me to steward; that through me God is building something more perfect than I can imagine…day by day, one small brick at a time. Thank you for sharing this poem, and thank you for having the courage to step out and use your gift to build His kingdom. He can turn our humble cottages into cathedrals…”Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.”-Ps. 127:1

    1. Jill,

      Yes! I’m happy to hear that these words were encouraging to you as you do the most important job in the world. God bless you. You are a heroine!


  4. Sam,
    I love this poem – it touched me deeply. It fills me with hope that there are many of us laboring in the vineyard for the Lord in our own ways, with our own gifts.

    (You must forgive my rambling comment above. On the surface, it makes no sense but it was my initial reaction to reading this – a bit of poetry in response.)

    Just received our Kickstarter package. WOW! I am going to finish our read-aloud and then casually bring this out – they will go crazy!

    Best to you and yours,

  5. Wonderful! (And I’m not a big poetry fan outside of Tolkien)

    I’m reminded of St. Francis of Assisi. He found a tiny little stone chapel in the woods, falling apart and collapsing, and Christ spoke to him in a vision “Francis, go rebuild my Church, which you see is falling into ruins.”

    So he went all across the town, begging for stones, wooden beams, workers, until the tiny chapel was beautiful and a place of great worship.

    Except when Our Lord said “Francis, go rebuild my Church, which you see is falling into ruins.”, he was not speaking only of the chapel, and St. Francis went on to become one of the most revered Saints in Catholic Church history, reforming much.

    “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”
    -St. Francis

  6. Your poem paints a beautiful picture in my mind. A dwelling of blessed, happy, and joyful people. It is not a joyful place because the cabin dwellers have been given more, but because they are grateful for what they have been given and are willing to share what they have. Very much like the children the dear Lord loves so much.

    I really love how your poem offers your work, small though it may seem, it is a work of joy and it is there for any who wish to share in it.

  7. So excited to have found your books for our family. Thank you for sharing your gift for story telling and your beautiful inspirational poem!

  8. Wow. As an aspiring author, I’ve felt exactly what you’ve said in this poem. You put it in words so beautifully and succinctly! Thanks for sharing; it’s encouraging to hear someone else say it. God gave us gifts and skills to serve Him with and He will use them to bring Himself as much glory as possible! Sometimes all He’s asking is a cottage crafted in love.

  9. Wow. As an aspiring author, I have felt exactly what you said in this poem. You put it in words so beautifully and succinctly! Thanks for sharing; it’s encouraging to hear someone else say it. God has given us gifts and skills and He will use them for His glory! Sometimes all He’s asking is a cottage crafted with love.

  10. So encouraging and beautiful. I am a writer too but have been bogged down by my need for perfection. Thank you for encouraging and inspiring me to create my own cottage of words!

  11. Beautiful, SD.
    These are humbling times – where all those grand aspirations have to stand aside – and raising kids become the cornerstone it was always supposed to be.

  12. So humble. They tell me that no matter how small, when I try my best to make something that brings others happiness, it will always be beautiful. Thank you for these words.

  13. Beautiful. The power of humility is eternal — and a bit dodgy.
    I tell my kids pointing out humility is like pointing at a butterfly.
    Too much pointing and it might fly away!
    Thanks for all you are doing!
    Beautiful, honest poem.

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