I built a sandcastle today. In my mind. Have you ever done that? Done things in your mind. Pretending them to be real? It’s a rather lazy way to live, actually. It takes the doing out of living and replaces it with imagination and shadows that have no real movement, no real pain. But.....If Imagination is the next best thing to Living, then it can’t be all that bad. Some say Imagination is actually magical. I would agree. Wholeheartedly. Especially when it comes to building sandcastles.
I was lying on the beach. Wind vigorously blowing my hair. Somehow drowning out all sound. Ocean teasing me as the tide came closer and closer. I looked down. Tunneling out all around me as if my eyes were a camera lens zooming in on my fingertips. They began playing with the sand, as if they were not my own.
Rubbing the granules together back and forth in between my fingertips, I drift. My mind takes my back to Santorini, Greece. My magical place that I often go to in my mind. There was a beach there. The Red Beach, they called it. Red Sand. You have to climb up and down and across lots of volcanic rock to get to this cove, and then you climb down to actually get to the beach itself. Red. Beach. Surrounded by Volcanic Rock. Dirty. Rugged. Beautiful. Red. Sand.
My Imagination takes me away......there. "THIS cross, beautiful girl! This one is the one for you!" I smile at him, and I agree. That one IS the one for me. "Can I have my picture taken with you? With your cross?" I agree of course.... I was on day seven of backpacking the Greek Islands by myself. 2006. Me and God. A great pair we were back then, I must say. I looked down at the beach and I thought, "What would it look like to build a sandcastle of red sand?"
What would it look like? Purely and Simply - Incredible. The sandcastle of all sandcastles.
I had this sort of vision once of painting sandcastles. Not just with paint, but with gold. Liquid gold. So many people diligently detailed the sandcastles with their tiny paintbrushes, giving attention to every crevice, delicately placing all jewels in perfect castle edges, blowing away the unneeded sand from the proper places. Proud looks. Accomplished chests protruding from striving souls. And then she blew. And then it came. And then the teasing was not teasing any longer. In one clean sweep, one tide, it was gone.
And they were left standing with this befuddled look of "what just happened" on their face. Tiny paintbrushes in hand. Standing on a beautiful Red Beach with a backdrop of towering carved volcanic rock. What was that? It was this:
When life meets forever. That's "What Just Happened". When Life gives way to Forever then all things Living, simply, well.....End. Scary? I would say. When all things things finite meet all things infinite then All Things Forever overshadows All Things Not-Forever. And, well, all the energy we spend into painting Golden, Red, Magical Sandcastles all of a sudden seems.....Meaningless? Under the Sun?
Even if the purest of Time is spent nurturing the most precious of Lives - but does not bleed Love. What does it mean? If we spend our lifetime chasing grand and golden dreams that remove all of the worries of life - but then Life......Ends......... we are faced with the lifelong question from the Beginning of Beginnings:
What Is the purpose of life?
If our purpose of life does not involve something that continues beyond the Living - then can we really call it Purposeful? If the only thing in life that lasts is that which we cannot see, taste, or touch and we put all our energy into mending all things broken on earth - then will it not soon be. washed. away? You See - that Ocean is a killer. It is not Timeless. It is not Forever - and neither are most Sandcastles.... regardless of their Beauty.
But there are things that are - Forever. What things? Those things that alter the spirit. Those things that mend the heart. Those things that heal the soul. Those things. All things. Forever. Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faith. Hope.....oh, have I said Love? Those things that reach beyond Life and into Forever. Eternal Forever - and the one who created it.
All Things Forever: Mending Broken Heartaches, Freeing Bonded Spirits, Feeding Hungry Minds, Warming Frozen Hearts. We spend so much time and energy and money in Curing Diseases, Building Bank Accounts, Washing Dishes - but tend to forget that Forever is Forever -and what happens when Today ends and Forever Begins? And what would it look like if we put as much energy into those things we could not see as those things we become blinded by?
Ever thought about that? When you feed a child, that which fills their stomach will disappear. Hunger returns. It always does. But if you teach a child how to Hope. Wow. Teach a child how to Hope? It will be their greatest companion on a hungry night. You can give a thirsty man water - but if you teach him about Joy. Man, that's where it's at. Joy can Quench a Tired Spirit long after the water runs out. Straight A's without a Strong Spirit means little when death happens or she is date raped or his masculinity is cut to the core in the locker room. Following through on a beautifully planned ornate wedding day is small in comparison to knowing what it means to stay and fight for a marriage when infatuation gives way to reality. Teach her how to tie her shoe -yes, indeed. But teach her how to Run Life's race with a Tenacity and Strength, and she will be able to run barefoot on Field Day and beat all the boys (ok, ok - maybe one beat me : )
Show them the grandest ways to climb the ladder in the finest of suits - but fail to teach them about the vitality of a relationship with a Savior or the overflowing fulfillment felt when the Created knows the Creator, and you will short change them for Eternity. I wonder....what would happen if we used the gifts and talents that lie within each of us for a better forever? To alter the reflection of a soul by showing them a reflection of a Savior to, possibly, alter a reflection of what forever will look like - Forever. Can you imagine?
We Paint Our Sandcastles. Not just paint them. We gold plate them. Spend hours traveling to the Greek Islands to find the Grandest sand in the most Glorious places and build the most Elaborate sandcastles in order to paint them with the Finest of gold and the Rarest of jewels and then the tide comes. The teasing ocean beckons. And then - sand gives way to water. Today becomes forever -and all things that matter will all of a sudden, well, matter. Greatly. Gloriously. In the grandest fashion.
I say all of that to raise this question:
Where does your treasure lie?
You know why sand is sand? You know what it is really? It is a mixture of Rock and Minerals. Mainly - Quartz. The mineral least likely to be tethered by life's elements.
Least likely to be Tethered by Life's elements.
Seems significant. The mighty strong towers of Africa taught me more than these fingers could ever reveal in words. I remember when we were at our last IDP camp in Congo. The darkest one. The children surrounding us. Nudging in desire. Desperate in want. Hungry. Thirsty. Wanting just to go home. Crying to go home. Last camp, I will never forget. Most of the children in this camp didn't speak English - but they did know how to beg. I don't fault them at all. If I were born into that camp? I would have been the chief begger. The over-achiever begger. The begger among beggers. But this little boy......this one I will never forget.
All else were wanting money. All else were wanting food. All else were wanting. Something. Some THING. This boy was searching for morsels of a different kind. He came to me as if he was seeking me out. Touched my arm -softly. Looked at me - gently. Broken english he said this:
"Bible - A bible. Have a bible. Please?"
My eyes drew into his. As if a camera lens zooming in on one thing: His eyes. As if they were not his own.
"In this world of darkness you live in - you are not asking me for food, or drink, or even to go home. You want a bible?" And I had nothing to give him. Save a prayer and a smile and a hug. And a longing to see him in the Forever. One day.
Words I have read all of my life suddenly took on a different meaning. Words of a Savior: "See? ... if you have my living water, you'll never be thirsty again..."
I built a sandcastle today. A Magical Sandcastle. But it was not made of sand. It was made of three things:
All things forever. And I am painting it gold.