Beautiful morning drive into Chicago on Sunday going from west to east into the sunlight made my car a sort of quiet retreat (sans kids – miracles happen!) as I turned to the Pray-As-You-Go podcast.
The reading was from 1st Peter 2 – following the lectionary.
“Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in scripture:
‘See, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.’ To you then who believe, he is precious; but for those who do not believe, ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the very head of the corner’, and ‘A stone that makes them stumble, and a rock that makes them fall.’
They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.”
These words tumble around in my brain. Chosen. Precious.
What exactly is a living stone??? Stones and rocks aren’t alive. And yet, this is the oddball image the writer goes with in describing the “spiritual household” and “holy priesthood.” Rather than the solid concrete blocks of new construction so heavy that pallets of it have to be lifted with cranes and not the stones my mind turns to remembering how to tie all the rebar together so they can be put into pillars of concrete blocks and then mezcla poured over top of it, blocks that are immovable, permanent, and eternal… It’s living stones. Stones that have flesh and blood and humanity. Stones that cry out when cut down to be fit and shaped together. Stones that are likely flawed, inconsistent, and different from each other. Stones that just might get up and leave or move or shift up or down or mess up the whole structure.
“There are many things worth telling that are not quite narrative. And eternity itself possesses no beginning, middle or end. Fossils, arrowheads, castle ruins, empty crosses: from the Parthenon to the Bo Tree to a grown man’s or woman’s old stuffed bear, what moves us about many objects is not what remains but what has vanished.
There comes a time, thanks to rivers, when a few beautiful old teeth are all that remain of the two-hundred-foot spires of life we call trees. There comes a river, whose current is time, that does a similar sculpting in the mind.” -David James Duncan from River Teeth
Dissonance. The preacher spoke of it on Sunday sharing about the dissonance she experienced throughout her life – persistent, relentless when it came to her identity, the way people would read her, and find her culture, her ethnicity, her vocation as unintelligible, uncategoriz-able, unexpected. It made me remember how I grew to embrace that same dissonance. That deconstruction. The fragmentation. The collision of inside and outside. All of it eventually as something that shaped and sculpted my compassion for others, my understanding of injustice, and my perspective of beauty and God.
When God struck this heart of stone and rock, water and grace and love poured in, but gushed out, too. The cracks and fissures are there from those collisions. They keep letting the light in. And letting it out.
I need your grace. To remind me. To find my own. -Coldplay