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The Story of the Brick House

Chapter 1

Once upon a time there were three little pigs, and they went out into the world and built houses for themselves.

The youngest little pig built herself a house out of straw. Then one day a wolf came and said,
“Little pig, little pig, let me in!”
She said, “Not by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin!”
He said, “Then I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house in!”
And he did.

So she fled from the rubble and went to the house of her Older Sister, who had built a much better house out of logs. But the wolf followed her there and said,
“Little pigs, little pigs, let me in!”
Both little sister pigs together said, “Not by the hair of our chinny-chin-chins!”
He said, “Then I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house in!”
And he did.

So the little pigs fled from the rubble and ran for their lives to find shelter in the house of their Oldest Brother, who had built his home out of bricks. They hid in the brick house, trembling and panting, and their Oldest Brother said, “Don’t be afraid. My house is stronger than what you built, and no one can knock it down.”

Just as they feared, the wolf pursued them and tried to blow this house down too, and the sisters were so terribly frightened when they heard him outside. But their Oldest Brother said, “If he tries to climb down the chimney, I’ll roast him, and if he keeps huffing and puffing at my strong brick walls, he’ll collapse, and whatever happens, I will protect you.”

And sure enough, no matter how hard the wolf huffed and puffed, he could not budge the brick walls one inch. When he discovered this, he became very angry and went and got all the other wolves for miles around, and they all circled the brick house, howling with rage by day and by night.

At first the little pig was very frightened, and she huddled against the brick walls and trembled as she listened to the wolves that were just on the other side.

But as days and nights passed, she saw that no matter how many wolves blew and no matter how long they huffed or puffed, they would not break down her brother’s walls. She was still in the brick house.

And when the wolf cries entered her dreams and turned them into nightmares, she’d wake up and flail out until she touched the hard, solid, rough-smooth walls around her, and then she’d go back to sleep. She was still in the brick house.

And her brother told her, “You see you are safe here, because of what I have done, what I have built. You aren’t safe because you could protect yourself, because your own building failed. But you are safe because you hid inside of mine.” She was still in the brick house.

Eventually, the little pig began to realize that it didn’t matter whether she huddled in a shivering heap listening to the wolves howling at her or whether she danced and sang and played Parcheesi with her brother and sister in the house: she was just as safe either way because of the brick walls around her that her brother had built and that nobody and nothing could ever knock down. No matter what she did and no matter how she felt, she was still in the brick house.

She was safe.

Chapter 2

One day, the little pig’s Oldest Brother asked her, “Would you like to learn how to build brick walls?”

The little pig hesitated. “I don’t want to have to go outside,” she said, thinking of the wolves, and she shuddered.

“You don’t have to go outside,” said her brother. “You will NEVER have to go outside of my walls. I want to teach you to lay bricks inside.”

Then the little pig giggled, because that sounded funny, and said, “OK.”

And so her brother got out his bricks and mortar and his tools, and he showed her how to lay bricks–right in the middle of the living room floor!

And so the little pig tried doing everything her older brother did. The “wall” she built was already a little better than the walls she had built out of straw at her old house, but it still would never keep out wolves. But that was OK, because everything she built was inside what he built, and she wasn’t protected by wolves by her work, but by his. She was still in the brick house.

Once she had learned to lay bricks, she began to lay her brick walls up against the inside of his brick walls–both to keep her walls straight and also so there would still be space in the middle of the living room! She learned to lay corners, and to make her walls higher and higher like his. And her best efforts were still wobbly and lumpy and bumpy and wouldn’t keep out wolves so very well, but that was still OK, because these were walls within walls. She could learn and grow, and her work and her building could grow as she learned, and she was never in danger of wolves, whether she felt strong or weak,

for her house was a house within a house

and her walls were walls within walls

and her work was a work within a work,

and she was still in the brick house,

and her Oldest Brother’s work was Good Enough on her behalf

and she was safe.

 

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