One Shovelful at a Time

Reprinted from my old blog, Nine Tons of Marble, on May 9, 2009.

My uncle tells this beautiful parable about achieving a monumental task. Many years ago, he and his young son had to lay a sewer line in the back yard. They had to dig a forty-foot trench by hand, too poor to afford any machinery. His small son asked, “Dad, how will we ever dig such a long trench?” And he replied, “One shovelful at a time.” Some time later, the father and son team were finished. When the men came to deliver the pipe, they asked, “Where is all of your equipment?” My uncle told him that they didn’t use any. “But how did you possibly dig all of this?” And my young cousin piped in “One shovelful at a time.”

While I was working on the Virgin Mary sculpture, I had literally imported nine tons of marble from the Cararra Mountains in Italy. How were we ever going to get an image of the Virgin out of that enormous block of mountain? It seemed like forever that we worked on this sculpture and the only way that it was going to get done was one bit at a time. In fact, this is the only way that art is ever finished, one brush stroke at a time, one note at a time, one blow to the chisel at a time.

And so this blog offers a glimpse into the shovels full of creativity that I dig up along my journey. Some days I don’t work and lately those days seem more and more, but the ache to create grows more and more intense. I hope that I will have more to report in the coming days.


With the building of a shed and a renovation of my garage into a workable studio, I am often overwhelmed and wonder how it will all get done. I remind myself of this story. One shovelful at a time. Each day I will work a little here and a little there. It will get done; I will have a working studio; I will finish those sculptures. They will be beautiful and I will be satisfied.

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  1. Bob Hahn on April 10, 2012 at 7:32 pm

    Blessings Sarah, one prayer at a time… God’s speed and Easter blessings.

  2. hempelstudios on April 10, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    It’s great to “see” you here, Bob. Thanks for reading!

    • Bob Hahn on April 11, 2012 at 12:57 pm

      Indeed, I’ve been following your Studio Search via Twitter for some time now.. Am glad that a solution has been found.

  3. Gathering and Building « The PIECE on April 18, 2012 at 11:57 am

    […] into the shed and reclaim our deck as a beautiful outdoor room. Take a deep breath. Remember One Shovelful at a Time? I retell myself that story every […]

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