Sand Castles and Stone

Sand Castles and Stone [1]

The United States is at the end of an historical week, a week of attribution, anticipation, and aspiration; a week of excitement, energy, and enthusiasm; a week of hoopla, handshaking, and hope.  Now comes Shabbat, a day of rest, and then the hard work really hits Washington and the rest of us between they eyes. And the eyes of the world are upon us, a nation whose integrity and sense of moral development has been questioned time and again in recent years. This moment is our moment of opportunity, our moment of challenge. Will our nation, previously steadfast and sturdy, find its way back to the principles on which it was founded, the foundations on which it was built? Will those who were born and raised here welcome the same chances and gifts of those who have come to our shores to escape unthinkable tribulations of terror? Will we really pull together, or will most go down alone? Our country is facing a “developmental crisis.” What will bind us to unity, what resources will we use and how will we use them, to accomplish the greatest outcome for the greatest number? Will we provide an environment for our people, for all people, that continues to support our well being and theirs?

In “Sand Castles and the Comfort of Stone,” an article in the October edition of Connections published by the Council for Spiritual and Ethical Education, author  Rev. Michael E.C. Spencer, an Episcopal priest and Dean of Chapel at St., Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire,  speaks of “towers and turrets,” stone and stability. He talks about the joy of making sandcastles, though the joy is fleeting as the tide washes in. He speaks of the great castles of England and Europe, enduring and strong because of their solid foundation. Those foundations, he asserts, are not without cracks, the healthy settlement cracks that ensure structural endurance. Certainly, repair has been done, with the same level of knowledge, skill, and artistry that was utilized in the laying of the foundation. Then Rev. Spencer thinks about the earthquakes of San Francisco, the crucial design of the foundations of West Coast structures, developed to withstand shifting and shaking, developed to ensure stability attributable to flexibility, to the capacity of the foundations to “give.”

Surely, if ever the human race (regardless of the faith of its members), if ever Americans, if ever Jews have stood on shifting sands and shaking ground, this time is one of them. We have desired, in every generation, a better life, a better world for our children. We have worked hard toward those goals. Now, we face significant risk, and our children face significant risk. Can we stand on a firm foundation, one that will be stronger for its healthy cracks, one that will reveal the capacity to give, to realize the benefits of calculated flexibility? What is the foundation on which our children stand? Are we examining it from time to time, doing critical repairs? 

Our children will survive and flourish if they are able to demonstrate, to utilize, to generalize from their knowledge and skills, from their values, from their moral mandates, the ones you give, the ones that faith has given us, the ones we continue to teach and reinforce at HMJDS, and the ones that will keep them centered as they move along their life path.

May our new President, our people, and the world find peace and prosperity over time through the work of individuals who continue to build while checking the foundation of our structures from time to time. May our efforts and those of all human kind be blessed.

[1] Taken from the title of an article by The  Rev. Michael E.C. Spencer, “Sand Castles and the Comfort of Stone,” CSEE Connections, October, 2008.