Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.
~Matthew 7: 24-27
Our house is built on sandstone, on a rise on the farm. It is strong and solid, warm and cozy. We don’t worry about rising waters from the perpetual rains this time of year.
But the barns are built on lower ground where the waters come in torrents down the hill in fierce storms and fill the floors and cause chaos. Add in the winter winds, and we worry about whether the structures and their inhabitants can survive another season.
The wise man who built the barns on solid rock knew there would be hard times on that low ground yet his buildings have remained standing for decades despite the storms and threats. We too stay standing on the Word, even when tossed to and fro, though stuck in the mud and muck of life.
May my eyes see, my ears hear, my heart understand. He prepares me with parable.
We want to reach the kingdom of God,
but we don’t want to travel by way of death.
And yet there stands Necessity saying:
‘This way, please.’
Do not hesitate to go this way,
when this is the way that God came to you.
We too easily forget;
we are not asked to bear more
than God endured for us.
We follow a well-worn path
bearing the footprints of Him
who has come to lead us home.
I am the rest between two notes, which are somehow always in discord because Death’s note wants to climb over— but in the dark interval, reconciled, they stay there trembling. And the song goes on, beautiful. ~Rainer Maria Rilke from “My Life is Not This Steeply Sloping Hour”
On Sunday evenings I often feel I’m the spot in the middle between discordant notes. There is on one side of me the pressure of catch-up from what was left undone through a too-brief weekend and on the other side is the anticipated demand of the coming week. As I prepare to sleep at the end of a Sabbath day, I feel uneasily in dead center, immobilized by the unknown ahead and the known behind.
This moment of rest in the present, between the trembling past and uncertain future, is my moment of reconciliation: my Sabbath extended.
This evening, I will allow myself a steeply sloping hour of silence and reflection before I surge ahead into the week, knowing that on my journey I’ll inevitably hit wrong notes, yet beautiful nevertheless.
Even the least harmonious notes resolve within the next chord. I will move from the rest of my Sabbath back into the rhythm of my life.
Trembling, still trembling, always trembling at what is to come.
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing, As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding Stirred for a bird, – the achieve of, the mastery of the thing.
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermilion. ~Gerard Manley Hopkins from “The Windhover – For Christ Our Lord”
And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything? And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for? And have you changed your life? ~Mary Oliver from “The Swan”
I hold my heart in hiding, trying to protect that tender core of who I am from being pierced and shredded by the slings and arrows of every day life.
Yet to live fully as I am created to live, I must fling myself into the open, wimpling wings spread, the wind holding me up hovering. I must change my life as the wind changes.
I take my chances, knowing the fall has come. My wounds shall be healed, even as they bleed.
There is no wonder of it. So stirred. So much beauty to behold.