Not Your Ordinary Sand Castle – Revisited For Such A Time As This

Joyce Shafer

Joyce L. Shafer

It’s the third week in September 2020 as I write this, which includes an article I wrote in 2007, about an event that happened in 1991. Candidly, I’ve made minor tweaks here and there, to remove any New Age references in the original article, as I’ve wisely, thankfully, exchanged New Age for the Rock of Ages. Contemporary comments are at the end of it. I hope you’ll see why this decades-old experience came to mind.

Morning stretched itself awake as I made my way down to the shore and joined the handful of early risers. Lacy edges of waves lapped gently over my feet and I scrunched my toes in warm sand. Good time to build a sand castle. It was modest, done mostly for relaxation and enjoyment, not something anyone would pause to admire. After I finished the basic shape, I began to decorate it with shells. A boy about eight years old walked up and began to kick at the castle. I wondered what was in his mind for him to do such a thing.

What happened next happened quickly. I held out my hand filled with shells and said, “Here, help me put these on.” He stopped kicking, looked at me, then took the shells and began to place them on the castle. We decorated in comfortable, companionable, silence. “I’m out of shells,” he said after several minutes. “Get more,” I replied. He did, giving some to me. After a while, another little boy came along and started to kick the castle. My assistant started to fight him. I said, “Give him some shells.” The new boy worked with us for a couple of minutes then left.

When the entire exterior was covered in shells, we stepped back to look at our work. “We did a good job,” I said, “Thank you.” His gaze met mine then turned back to the castle, and he said it was time for him to go. I watched as he walked away and wondered how long our creation would remain intact, and then went inside. The next morning I found the shell-adorned castle mostly still there. It was evident that only nature had touched it with its tide.

That first boy was surprised when I extended my hand to him rather than yelled at him to stop kicking the castle or reacted more aggressively toward him. And in that split-second, he chose to invest time and energy into his ornamental efforts—our joint efforts, and then felt a need to protect the creation when someone sought to destroy it. Perhaps in human consciousness, Investment Equals Connection. How different life might be if we assumed our connection first. Investment in each other and our world would be automatic. If we don’t feel or perceive our connection to something or someone, it’s easy to either not care about it or them, or to destroy without thought or awareness.

From time to time, I wonder if the boy remembers that moment, if it had any influence in his life. That moment is still a golden thread in my life’s tapestry. It was a lovely, peaceful solution; an act of loving kindness toward a stranger who would become a momentary friend or, at least, a momentary collaborator and builder. When someone gives us a challenge, perhaps we can offer them some “shells.” Every challenge is an opportunity to expand who we are. If we practice peaceful solutions with smaller challenges, we may one day seek to find peaceful ways to deal with the really big ones. And, isn’t that what love would do?

Big Sigh: Simpler days, simpler ways, yes? Back to current reality. Over the last several months, how much has been impetuously and or systematically destroyed or altered, maybe forever, by those who have little to no investment in or connection to who and what their choices impact or destroy? How many of these people, careless about or bent on destruction, have ever invested the time, energy, and funds to build something that not only supports them and their families, but also provides and or contributes in a productive, uplifting way to the larger community, be that their neighborhood, city, or beyond? (You will know them by their fruit.)

Investment Equals Connection, Connection Equals Investment. We likely believed we were invested, were connected. But were we, are we? Pause and ponder on what’s changed in the Seven Mountains of Influence:

-Religion
-Family
-Education
-Government
-Media
-Arts
-Business

I’ll give you one example of a major change: What has shifted regarding protection of the innocence of children, starting as early as in the womb? I read an article, complete with photo, that showed priests, nuns, preachers, etc., doing a ritual to “bless” and “sanctify” an abortion clinic; each of them wore an ecstatic expression. Another article was about a substantial number of evangelical preachers who no longer believe Jesus is Who He is. (Wolves in sheep’s clothing, all.) Where were we looking while all these dramatic changes happened in those cultural mountains? I daresay our attention was not where it belonged.

If you’re not informed about these and other matters, it’s time to become so: Lack of investment in our upcoming generations is being demonstrated (literally) in our streets. If you are informed, at the very least, go after this in fervent prayer, which is quite powerful. We all need to become far more connected to what’s going on beyond ourselves and invest what we can, whether that’s time, money, and or prayer because eternal souls depend on it—that of others and our own. Man of God, author, and documentary film maker, Stephen Quayle said it right: “There’s no political solution to a spiritual problem.”

May God our Heavenly Father give us an increased measure of wisdom and discernment, of knowledge and understanding, of His Word and Kingdom so that we think, speak, and walk in Kingdom ways.

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