From the Psalter:
You will rise up and have compassion on Zion,
for it is time to favor it;
the appointed time has come.
For your servants hold its stones dear,
and have pity on its dust.
(From the Daily Office Lectionary – Psalm 102:13-14 (NRSV) – August 17, 2013.)
My parish is currently undertaking a building renovation which will include redoing some of the concrete pathways and landscaping. In the process of overseeing this work, I’ve learned a new word – hardscape – which means the area of a designed landscape made up of hard wearing materials such as stone, concrete, and similar construction materials. I’ve been thinking about rocks and stones for the better part of a month. That’s why I haven’t written one of these meditations . . .
I got hung up on an image from the Old Testament reading for July 22, 2013, which included this verse: “Saul took three thousand chosen men from all Israel and went to seek David and his men in front of the Rocks of the Wild Goats.” I couldn’t get that description, “the Rocks of the Wild Goats,” out of my mind. I’ve read the Daily Office lessons everyday, but as I thought about them, I kept coming back to “the Rocks of the Wild Goats.” And then, this morning’s Psalm has this bit about the stones of Zion and something clicked.
The Stones of Zion: the Hardscape of Salvation
Slipping from my hand
The looking glass falls to the rocky path
In a glittering crescendo
It shatters into shards of shimmering shine
And crashing crystalline cacophony
Saul went in the direction
Of the Rocks of the Wild Goats
In a dark and stony cavern
David silently snipped the corner of his cloak
And saved the king
Jesus walked the way of weary tears
Up the stony slope of an escarpment shaped like a skull
On that dark and windswept hillside
Soldiers tossed dice for a seamless tunic
And killed a king
The women gathered grieving in the garden
Beside a boulder that had blocked a burial vault
On a dark and cheerless morning
Magdalen turned from an empty shroud
And beheld her king
Slipped from my hand
The shattered mirror of my life fallen on a path
Strewn with goat rocks, gravelly skulls, and tombstones
The glittering, shimmering shards lovingly gathered
And saved by a king
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Father Funston is the rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Medina, Ohio.