A Letter to Heather, on her Spring Break Service Trip

What follows is a letter to Heather, from me, on her Spring Break Service Trip.  She is currently in Mississippi, with Villanova University.  They are working with Habitat for Humanity to provide affordable housing to those in need.

She is currently out of touch (no cell phones, no e-mail) as part of the Service Trip requirements.



Dear Heather,

I love you!

I am writing this letter to you on February 18, but you will receive this in Mississippi, sometime around March 1.

I have a few thoughts that I would like to share with you.  I am assuming that you might share this letter with your classmates, so I will try not to be too embarrassing.  🙂


First, let me tell you how proud I am of you.  I really can’t express it well with words.

I do remember, when I was your age, hearing older people say “what is WRONG with kids nowadays?!”

Let me tell you what is RIGHT about young people, like you, nowadays.

You have a passion about making the world a better place.  This activity is completely selfless.  All of you have given up a week of your lives, (and specifically Spring Break week), in order to help others.  You are roughing it, in order to help those who have it even rougher than you.

Well done, Villanova.  I am really proud of all of you.


It is time for me to dust off my Chartres story.  The point of this story, is to remind you about HOW to approach this kind of service work.

A traveller approaches the Cathedral of Chartres, as it is being built.  He first sees a man who is creating stained glass windows, and asks the glazier what he is doing.  The glazier responds, “I am making stained glass”.  The traveller then sees a sculptor making a beautiful marble statue, and asks her what she is doing, and she replies “I am making a statue”.  The traveller then sees someone carving wooden pews, and asks him what he is doing, and the carpenter says “I am making pews”.

A janitor then walks by, pushing a broom, and sweeping up bits of stained glass, marble and wood, and the traveller asks the janitor what he is doing.  The janitor replies “I am building a monument to the glory of God”.

I know that you will all be involved with carpentry, or plumbing, or electrical work this week.  In addition to that work, I hope that you all are able to realize that you are building a monument to the glory of God.  And that monument is your lives, and the lives of those you are serving.

You are giving up a week of your lives to help others.  But you may be surprised at who gets helped most in this week.  It may wind up being you.  You may be changed by this experience.


And now for some inappropriate advice…. 🙂

1) If you are asked to use any power tools, remember who your father is.  Remember that I can’t even use a can opener without hurting myself.  Be careful.

2) The reason “nail gun” has the word “gun” in it should be obvious.  Be careful.

3) Warn your classmates over and over again who they are working with.  Warn them.  Let them wear extra protective clothing.  You should wear full length body armor.

4) If you smash your thumb with a hammer, be creative in your cursing.  Anyone can use 4-letter words.  I expect better from you.  I expect 8 and 12 letter words, and even an 18 letter masterpiece.  (Remind me when you get home. It isn’t fit for a Villanova University).


Do you remember a conversation that we have had several times, about the legacy that I would like to leave for you and for Dylan?  The 4 things that we discussed are:

1) Know that you are loved

2) Be safe

3) Get a great education

4) Leave this world a little bit better than you found it

How about a report card on the four things listed above?

1) I love you, and so does Mommy, and Dylan, and Darwin too.  Your whole family loves you dearly. Always and forever.

2) Hopefully you are safe in Mississippi.  Stay away from nail guns.

3) A great education?  Vs Up!!!  🙂

4) Leave this world a little bit better than you found it?  It looks like you’re trying-  all of you.  Well done, Heather.  I am so proud of you.


I can’t wait to see you.



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