My first view of it came from at least a mile away, across fields and woods and colored by a setting sun. The spires of the Biltmore mansion stood proudly in a group, sticking up above the pines and pointing into the sky. Even from such a distance, it looked enormous.
I had tried once before to come here and tour this place, but instead a flu had me halucinating in a nearby hotel room bed. I fought off dragons and flew through black ink skies until our schedule forced us to move on - me in the passenger seat, curled into the fetal position. We left without even getting a glimpse. Now, four years hence, the glimpse alone was worth the trip.
The next day we gathered with dear friends and took the official tour. My favorite was the library, of course. Being a sucker for architecture and the creative process in general, I was taken in by George Vanderbilt's vision, his design, the attention to detail, and, obviously, the sheer size of the building. My mind went to thoughts of infrastructure and logistics, the complication of the build, and the cost. 125,000 acres, I thought! What an estate.
Seeing the servants' quarters, noting the scale of the kitchens and "working rooms," it occurred to me how many people must work to allow a few to be at leisure. What had Vanderbilt himself done, after all, to earn all of this? He was a third generation millionaire (billionaire in today's inflated dollar terms) who spent his inheritance on this dream home while his older brother carried on the family work. But then, who was I to judge? And who could begrudge someone using his means in a way he saw fit, that didn't hurt anyone, and that brought a lot of activitiy to a lot of people. Besides, there was also talk of his private contributions to charity.
That's when I thought of it.
One part of the audio tour mentioned that Vanderbilt had 40 full-time staff to run the place in his day. Yet, everywhere we went on the property, from the inn to the winery, from the guard shack to the house proper, we were met and greeted and handled by friendly, smiling people. There are way more than 40 people working here now. One man's dream from over a century ago has provided not only enjoyment, but employment for countless others down through the years.
Dreams, you see, have ramifications. Beauty has a special quality that, when shared, is free and contagious. It can be appreciated by everybody. But beyond the sharing of a work of art, such as the Biltmore mansion, dreams can be productive in employing others and providing a livelihood, too.
Dream big. Dream in a God-honoring way. Dream of things you can do with your talents and abilities to bring joy, share beauty, and impact others in a positive way. Do no harm. Seek to do good. For you can never know for sure how far your dream will reach or last, and how many it will benefit along the way. Who knows, someone may just be writing about your dream 100 years from now!