Near our lodge, up in the pines, was a huge pile of long chopped logs, stacked high. The rings at the heart of each log tell a story; the years they’d been around. Certain logs were riven with deep cracks, some that were shape altering. Others had bark that was stripped and bare and broken. The cracks hinted at certain things the trees had weathered and survived. The bare bark exposed perhaps what has been lost, what difficulty had cost. Nonetheless, grouped together they bore some kind of awkward beauty.
It got me thinking about our relationships as Christians and how we do life together. Each one of us has a story to tell, years about each other that we simply do not know about. We may carry cracks within that run like fault lines to our very core. We’ve been altered by the experience. Some of us still look a little vulnerable, as we emerge from the storms.
But it can be difficult to “group together” can’t it? It’s difficult to tell our stories, to share our vulnerability. It’s certainly hard work to tolerate the cracks within another, especially when we are busy hiding our own. It’s easier, much easier to pull away and stand alone and save ourselves the hurt, hassle and disappointment. It’s easier to stand side by side in worship and face the front, and close our eyes, never having to face one another. So we don’t find ways to draw nearer.
Grouped together, awkwardly beautiful, the logs had potential. They might become the heart of a fire bringing light into darkness. They were huge so they could be used to build something. More cabins, a home, a shelter, a base. Peter describes God’s people as “living stones” who “are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood”. Paul describes God people as “God’s temple”, home to his Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:17).
Jesus is still interested in building his church. But that is someone else’s post.
I’m actually thinking far more about our friendships, our acquaintances, our families. I’m thinking about the people who we rub up against, whose vulnerability repels us, whose broken bark scratches us. I’m thinking about the cracks that have (mis)shaped me, and how they interact with someone else’s. Is there more to our relationships than we have seen, and dare we go there?