Last week I met a lady-architect in Mindanao whose humble demeanor moved me.* I don’t remember the architect’s name, but for the sake of this story, let’s call her Mabel.
Mabel was middle aged, kind, and smartly dressed. She had short hair, wore a clean, elegant suit, but exuded a self-effacing spirit that made me feel safe. I appreciated her manner even more that night because the other guests at this party were too eager to make connections and display their peacock feathers. I don’t know about you, but crowds like that make my skin prickle, in a bad way.
As Mabel and I chatted, I found out she wasn’t the typical architect. Instead of buildings and houses, she built chapels and churches. Her unusual project choice intrigued me, so I asked how she got into the church-building trade.
Her casual reply, “I’m not sure. It just happened.” Said in a tone that told me she didn’t think her work was that important.
She then explained that one day, a friend approached her, asked her to design a Church, and told her not to worry too much about cost. That’s how it began. So, she drew the simplest sanctuary she could imagine, only to be surprised at how anonymous strangers would come and offer donations to pay for prettier designs. Their generosity is even more impressive considering Mindanao isn’t a wealthy place.
Their willingness to give struck her deeply. She sensed in these unexpected gestures a mysterious energy that made her skin prickle, but this time, in a good way. She couldn’t explain exactly what fueled them, but it felt a lot like prickly providence doing its magic.
As she told her story, her voice and gaze were filled with a humble, subtle wonder. The kind of awe that is discreet enough for a casual observer to miss, but for those who know how to spot it, it signals the presence of deep, real, and selfless faith.
*Mindanao is the southernmost of the 3 major Philippine island-groups. The other 2 are Luzon and Visayas.