Listen to the Stones

HumphreyBy Matthew Humphrey (right),

Not one stone will be left stacked upon another
the teacher said, the twinkle in his eye dimming just a moment,
as they all gasped, Say it’s not so!
Their human gaze traced in adorned temple stones.
Listen to the stones, my friends.

The stones… on which Jacob dreamed at Bethel – the house of God.
The 12 stones… circled round, gathered up from Jordan rivers banks,
by ancestors, all gathered at Gilgal, the circle of standing stones.

In the days of old, in our wilderness wandering,
it was unhewn stone, unadorned, that was called for.
As the God who liberates beckoned unshackled slaves
Their knees still shaking at Sinai’s base.
Unhewn stone speaks holy words.
But your chisel will profane it, says the God of earth and altar.
Listen to the stones.

Stones received the fingerprint of God in covenant witness.
Stones rolled to form tabernacle and Solomon’s dream of a Temple.
But all these stones will soon be unstacked, the teacher says.
And yet even still: the stones cry out. Are you listening?

Out of the depths of a prehistoric past
the stones whisper of a long-remembered hope
emerging before the progress of man.
The stones speak of a time before we warm-blooded ones came,
chiseling forth our temples, blasting out rock
and earth and building our towers heavenward.
Out of the sweet silences of deep time,
from within earths warm blanket the stones cry out still –
for the worlds long awaited turning:
And the coming of God to make a home with us.
Listen to the stones.

On this day, entering Jerusalem one last time, the teacher pauses to ponder.
The end of temple. The true end of God’s work in earth and altar.
And he bears in his ears and heart, the silent teaching of the stones.
Of a future when God tabernacles among us – our all in all.
But this the teacher saw, was only to be, by the stone.
By the stone rolled away – in vindication of Creator’s call.
And the stone of our hearts, rolled inside out to become
the warm and fleshy home of the God who makes and re-makes all.

Listen to the stones.

Matthew W. Humphrey lives, works, plays and prays on Songhees and Esquimalt territories, in the Cecilia Creek watershed, in Victoria, BC.  He is an educator, writer, community minister, and ordained Deacon in the Anglican Church of Canada.  He works with A Rocha Canada, the AbbeyChurch, and is a newly appointed Curate at the Parish of Central Saanich, BC.   He recently launched Wild Church Victoria: a watershed discipleship community.   He is married to Roxy and together they shepherd three children.

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