Patio Woes


The Best-laid Plans

The parents of a growing family, three children in tow and a fourth on the way, decided it was time to expand their house as well. There was plenty of indoor living area, but their backdoor patio was just a narrow strip of screened-in concrete that barely allowed passageway around a few lawn chairs and a BBQ grill. Their plan was to add an eight-foot extension onto the lawn beyond the screened enclosure by laying down 90 24-inch pavers. These natural tiles are so heavy that, with a deep bed, edging and “polysand,” they can be set side by side without the need for cement binding to hold them in place. The result is a permanent-looking landscape, which is not, technically speaking, permanent at all, but is solid and lasts for decades. And since this is not a stationary structure, there is no need to apply for permits to build it.

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

The couple decided to hire a reputable firm who could complete the project in one or two days. The company they employed was so upstanding the boss decided to apply for a building permit, even though it wasn't needed. Sadly, the city chopped this happy couple's dream in half. Having discovered the need for an easement in the back of their home, they were told that an eight-foot extension was too wide and with the stroke of a pen lopped off four feet from the original proposal.

Who Has the Final Say?

How often in life are our plans and visions altered by someone else? For example, we all like to think our home is our castle and that we have indisputable rights over the earth beneath it. We do not. For the sake of the common good, our government has the final say over the ground we own. The power of eminent domain gives the state the right to confiscate private property if public use of that ground is needed.

Souls and Hearts Belong to God

Just as the country has dominion over our land, so does God have dominion over our lives. God, after all, is the Creator. We, much as we might not like to admit it, are the creatures. Although we have been endowed with an amazing amount of freedom over our bodies, the truth is they were given to us by God. Someday, we will have to give an account of how we used our flesh and blood. How well are we taking care of the exterior vessel, which encompasses our spiritual interior? Likewise, how well are we nourishing our invisible soul, which animates the visible form others see?

For Holy Homework: Let's download a photo of a beautiful paver patio and write the phrase “body and soul on loan” across the bottom of it. Then secure the picture to the fridge for 30 days. Each time we look at it, let's ask ourselves, “How well am I taking care of the interior and exterior union, the person whom God created, loves and wants back some day?” The nation may have the last word over our property, but God has the final say over our body and soul.

Comments can be sent to: FatherBobPagliari@Yahoo.com





To order your copy of Fr. Bob Pagliari's book,


send a check payable to Catholic New York in the amount of

$16.45 ($14.95 + $1.50 postage) to

Catholic New York, 1011 First Avenue, New York, NY 10022


No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment