The Reverend Allison Barrett

Loving the World with Words


Building a Foundation – a poem of encouragement

This wasn’t actually written when we were building our cottage or re-building our house. It was written at the beginning of a big undertaking at church (the process of deciding whether to move, build, remodel or birth other congregations) when we grew rapidly in the early days of our ministry together.

But it’s for anyone who is labouring, perhaps alone or unseen for long hours, days or even years, on something you believe in. It could be healing, growing, building, or even taking apart; it might be something you cannot fully explain or even understand yourself. It might be something that isn’t even accomplished in your own lifetime. But all that hard work and those unseen steps along the way make all the difference.

Courage to you on your long journey!


When you are building a foundation,
from far away, it looks as if nothing is happening.
Small figures, without any discernible movement
gather around a hole in the ground

From time to time, a truck arrives,
bringing supplies
that cannot be made out at a distance

Wood? Stone? Cement?
Something is happening.
But no-one can see what.
They turn away, disinterested.

But on the place where the house will stand,
people are sweating, hauling,
heaving and sweltering in the sun

Measurements are taken,
lines are drawn and digging begins.
For days nothing is seen above the ground.
But beneath – ground is leveled, tamped, made solid.

Pillars and beams plotted, space made;
the entire plan envisioned –
made possible by what lies beneath.

When you are building a foundation
From far away, it looks as if nothing is happening

Everything is about to begin.