A Heap of Stones

I had driven past that barn each day on my commute to work for 17 years. When I first moved to Belmont, three sheep claimed the old structure as “home.” In the Spring they would emerge from their lower-level pen newly shorn. I would wonder about the barn in its heyday. How many animals lived within its timbers for warmth? Were there tractors that tilled the field? Did children from the nearby farmhouse play in the rafters?

A couple of months ago the barn burned down. I was saddened to see the skeletal frame charred and exposed. Hay bales sat intact that had probably been dragged into the barn years before. Within a couple of weeks, the demolition was accomplished. A machine with a claw pulled down the timbers and piled them into a dump truck that carted them off to a place of refuse. The last pile to be pitched was a heap of stones. They had been held together with mortar to offer a firm foundation on which the whole barn rested. Even though the foundation had withstood the heat of the fire, it was no longer needed for support. I wondered what would become of those ordinary stones that had lived with such purpose for so long. Anyone seeing them now would just see ordinary rocks, field stone that is so plentiful that we scarcely notice it.

balancing rock formation
Photo by Tina Nord on

The writer of Ecclesiastes wrote of the seasons in life. He used imagery from a primitive lifestyle. “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” One of those seasons came to mind as I saw the great claw lifting piles of foundation stones into a refuse truck: “a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together.” Ancient people used rocks. They were transformed into essential building material. Alone, a rock had limited use. But, combined with hundreds of others, it could withstand wind, fire, rain and snow. Together, the rocks held up a structure that kept animals secure and hay bales dry. For a long season, these stones were needed.
We’ve been given another year, a new season, a chance at new opportunities even as our world sits frozen about us. Resolutions that were made at the beginning of this month may have already been broken. While we may feel like just ordinary stones that could be easily overlooked, God has a purpose for each one of us. You must be in community with others to be able to fulfill all that God is calling you to accomplish. Then, when God is the mortar holding a bunch of us regular folk together, there’s no telling what changes we can effect for the good of our community. So, for God’s sake, let’s gather stones together!

By preachinglife

My father was a military chaplain so I moved around quite a bit growing up. I have always gone to church! Even when we traveled we went somewhere to church. I met and married my husband, Garrett, at Chicago Theological Seminary where I earned a Masters of Divinity degree. He and I were ordained together at the First Church of Lombard, United Church of Christ in Lombard, Illinois on June 14, 1987. My first act as an ordained minister at the end of a tremendously hot ordination ceremony was to baptize my daughter, Lisa Marian! We added two sons and a daughter to the mix: James, Joseph and Maria. We have girls on either end and two boys one year apart in the middle. They range in age from 33 to almost 22. I love them!

I have been in the parish ministry for 35 years, serving at three different churches. I have joyfully served the people at the First Congregational Church of Rockford, United Church of Christ in Rockford, Michigan for 24 years.

We live on family land about 3 miles from the church. In random free moments I enjoy cooking good meals, reading, writing, gardening, traveling and spending time with my family. I am blessed!

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