It was a large stone; about the size of a slightly flattened egg. There were a dozen pits covering its surface. I scooped it off the shore and held it up to the sunlight, squeezing one eye shut to focus on each hole. I sighed. Not one hole went clear through. It needed more time. I hurled it back in the water.
Have you ever stood on the shore of the ocean?
The waves sweep in and out in an unending dance between the sand and the moon. The tidal highs and lows form the rhythm of life that shapes coastal areas regardless of nation or language. There is a tension between the out pouring and rebounding of each wave and each tide--a tension that mirrors the tension keeping each drop in a perfect, dynamic sphere. At low tide, the sand is decorated with swaths of shells, stones, and seaweed. Footprints track the passage of sandpiper and beachcomber alike.
My footprints are there.
I search for fairy stones: stones with a hole all the way through. For me they carry the whisper of the Divine and time and motion and, perhaps, enchantment.
Stone is about two to three times more dense than water. It sinks. Stone is just a bit more dense than bone. It hurts.
Jesus meets the religious leaders on the road one day. They have a woman and stones. Her bones would be broken for her sin. Stone on bone. But it is Jesus they want. The scribes and Pharisees appear quite willing to sacrifice the life of the woman in order to force Jesus into a politically compromising position. There is no love or compassion felt for the woman (where, by the way, was the man?), who was simply being used as a pawn in a game of personal power. Jesus refused to be trapped by the play, and looked through the legal issue to the fate of the woman and, surprisingly, for anyone other than Jesus, to the fate of the accusers.*
The way of stone is merciless and hard. It looks for justice. It will stand for a thousand years.
A fairy stone is a stone, but the sunlight peeks through. Like laughter in the midst of grief. A million waves, a million watery breaths, create the impossible, the ineffable, the frolicsome. A stone light-bearer born of a conversation between the moon and the water and time.
How frivolous. How superfluous. How fanciful. How wonderful.
When we talk about Discipleship, there is a temptation to reduce the discourse into a discussion of discipline and rules. What must I do to enter into the Kingdom of God? What are the commandments I must keep? Whom must I stone?
What should I stone in myself?
Jesus says that loving God and loving others is the most important duty a person can have, and that to emphasize anything else leads to woe.** Jesus knew that we, humans, have an intense need to pin down exactly what we need to do in order to achieve greatness.
Give me the formula for success.
Give me parameters.
Jesus knew that living in the wholeness of love and in the flow of giving and receiving resists legalism, which does not focus on love.
How can we live lives poured out for others? We must become fairy stones. We must be willing to be pierced by love and become just a bit whimsical. Even a bit frivolous. Ready with love so extravagant it must be light pouring through a stone because no one could conjure it up.
Even with perfect discipline.
Invitation to Missional Mindfulness:
- Where are the “STOP!” signs in our communities of faith that need to be torn down?
- How should we be making the invisible visible?
- How is our practice of daily living out our faith showing us when to let it all go and wail?
*Larry Duggins, “The Simple Harmony Model,” in Simple Harmony (Southlake, TX: Columkille Press, 2012), 25-30.
**Larry Duggins, “The Greatest Commandment,” in Simple Harmony (Southlake, TX: Columkille Press, 2012), 7-14.