Castles Made of Sand
How many times have we been amazed by landmark buildings? Those great cathedrals, temples, theaters and opera houses mark human achievement and celebrate both design and vision. Artistic spaces amplify and magnify our human efforts to fill common space with music, with art, with sound and sight. Sacred spaces remind us of the beauty and grandeur of the human heart's longing for the transcendent. A great cathedral, mosque or temple forms a space around our prayers...they kindle our imaginations and provoke our awe. For the most part, a building formed with those visions in mind is meant to provide also a promise of some degree of permanence and assurance. Human lives are brief, but a cathedral spans generations in its construction, and by God's grace and the hard work of many hands it will stand for the ages.
But as beautiful as these buildings are, the presumption that the are anything other than transient is delusion on our part. Like castles made of sand on the beach, they rise beautifully from the vision of the architect to stand as testament to faith, hope, and our desire to leave a bit of our visions behind for those who follow. In reality, the moment a structure rises it is falling down. The moment a cathedral is "completed," it is immediately under renovation and restoration. In order for our human constructions to persist; then we must consistently tend to them, even as moth, rust, and tides erode, oxidize and devour.
That isn't bad news, just a reminder that even the great Temple itself, a structure that served as the center point for the people of Israel in their walk with (and worship of) God, cannot stand forever. Though the disciples remarked upon its precincts and buildings, Jesus doesn't look back as they leave and teaches them that even this construct will fall. He counsels that they maintain a watchful and expectant posture...for even as things fall apart, the real and eternal assurances of God will be revealed.
What truly abides? Not castles made of sand. What abides for us is God's kingdom, God's justice and God's love for us. If we are to build anything that is to be eternal, then it will be through and by God's grace working in us more than we could ever ask or imagine.