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A Lesson in Stones

People of faith live in the tension between the reality of what is and the promise of what will be. Not what might be but what will be … such is the world of faith and faithfulness, and while that journey sets us up to experience our share of disappointments, it also equips us to live courageously, creatively, and hopefully when the sun comes up the next day.

An interesting combination: disappointment on the one side, hope on the other. Maybe Alexander Pope was right … “Hope springs eternal in the human breast:  Man never is, but always To be Blest.”

Courageous, creative, and hopeful people of faith have the ability to take the long look with regard to the future while fully investing themselves in the present, just like the farmers of Mendon, Michigan. Mendon is home to a Catholic church built of St. Joseph County field stone. In plowing their fields, farmers would inevitably unearth these large stones, but what to do with them? What else, cart them to town. At first, they just dropped the stones in a pile, and over time, the pile grew. When it looked like perhaps they had enough, the people hired a stone mason who, in 1906, turned the pile of stones into a striking church edifice.

The stones that had probably bent and broken many a plow, frustrating the desire to tame and bend the land to other ends, had themselves been tamed and shaped to another end. I imagine that the farmers who paused in prayer must have taken a secret delight in having had the last word.

We may not work with actual stones, but from innumerable building blocks do we construct our lives and our communities, including the community of faith. At times, we wonder about the results, but then we remember that courageous, creative, and hopeful building describes the Creator’s work from the dawn of creation itself, a work that continues in and through each of us.

Can it be that hope springs eternal in the human breast because God put it there?