Rock and Sand

My days are sandy this summer–fluidly flowing from place to place and task to task, moving back and forth like the tide from this town where I live. I”ll be in and out all summer, more than usual, for a variety of largely joyful reasons. However, this does mean that my reflective work (researching and writing) is done in the places I am staying out of town–where the needs of my house and bills and errands cannot distract me–while when I am at home (as I am for two more days) there is nothing to do but catch up on the laundry and the mail and the yardwork and myriads of other practical matters.

On days like these I sneak in a psalm here and there, but in between I let rise to the surface whatever gospel teaching seems to be recalling itself to me. And the one that comes to me swiftly and first and almost exclusively these days is the parable Jesus told about building our houses on the rock rather than on sand. Just the image of this pauses and grounds me.

For those of us who naturally like to think a lot, to analyze and apply ideas, it”s good to let scriptural images work on us also at simply a “here I am, looking at you” eye level. I have found often that even single words–like compassion, wisdom, reconciliation, attentiveness–can immediately calm me.

This side of lectio seems like the first step in both our doing and our thinking. We don”t need to have the answer yet; we don”t need to have what needs doing done yet–or even yet have the plan of the day or the next hour. We don”t need to have the house built yet. First we recall the rock, see it, and find ourselves sitting on it. Jesus seems a lot less interested in what particular kind of house we build (though Paul will make much of the building material, as will the Three Little Pigs) . But Jesus does clearly direct us to the kind of ground on which this day”s, this lifetime”s home is built.

What do you think of when you think of Jesus” teaching to build the houses of our lives on rock rather than on sand?

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