Day two of a Lenten focus on 'stuff', hoping to glimpse God through something physical.
And today I thought about stone. In particular, these stones.
Stone is solid, dependable. Those dry stone walls in the Cumbrian fells are a masterful example of craftsmanship without the aid of cutting edge technology - just stones, each one unique, piled in such a way as to keep sheep in/out, mark the boundaries and look beautiful as walkers clamber over them into the next field. It's not difficult to see why St. Paul used stones being built together as a metaphor for the church (the 'living stones' of 1 Peter 2:5).
I didn't realise when I got ordained that so much ministry would be bound up with emails, that even pastoral relationships would be so affected by the tone of them. Because there are ways and ways of writing emails...At least once I've sent one off with a bit too much haste and rued the consequences...There are currently over 4000 in my inbox (that is, 4000 read ones; panic not) - I'm not sure how many months went by since the last electronic clear out but that does seem an awful lot of ether...
With so much electronic communication going on, it was good to go somewhere today and look at something solid and immovable (barring earthquake, out of control tractors or the Second Coming, that is). Stone. You can touch it, it's cool. It's not just grey. Things grow in between it, other things actually live on it.
If you were to bump into it, or scrape your flesh against it, you'd know all about it though ('he is the stone that causes people to stumble; the rock that makes them fall', Isaiah 8: 14).
These particular stones house a building where learning and Christian formation takes place*, so in all their steadiness and physicality, they say to me 'we have been built; you are being built; the church is being built.'
Which is a good solid sandwich between the emails of this morning and the emails of this evening.
*Ripon College, Cuddesdon, Oxfordshire, UK.