“On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand…”
I love the hymn, but it lies.
It doesn’t mean to, of course. It means to tell a deep truth…but I think the way it is put in practice, at least, is a lie.
Because while we may talk about God as “solid ground,” and the God seen in Christ as “solid ground,” we also talk about God as breath and wind.
So which is it? As Nicodemus asks Jesus, “How can this be?”
Well, it is because it’s not true…it’s deeper than truth. It’s more than true.
What I’m getting at is: it’s all metaphor. God may be unchanging, but is also the “wild goose” of Celtic wisdom, running roughshod and rampant across existence. “God can’t be boxed in or pinned down,” we say, and yet we sing of God as “the rock.”
Faith turns into lunacy when the metaphor becomes the idol.
And let’s be honest: you don’t want solid ground. Solid ground is difficult to till. Solid ground is brittle, and breaks but doesn’t give in the way you need useful ground to give. Solid ground may not shift, but living things need shift.
You cannot root in solid ground.
You cannot breathe in solid ground.
Solid ground is a tomb which could not contain the Christ.
The quest for the spiritual seeker, then, is not to find the solid ground and build a house there, but rather to embrace the uncertainty of life and living. Hug change and keep it close. Learn to keep your heart nimble, to dance when the “earth moves under your feet” as St. Carol of the Kings sang.
Because God is only solid ground insofar as existing in God allows you to shift and move with the waves of life.
Because God is only secure insofar as rooting yourself in God pushes you toward the skies, toward change and growth…and nothing alive escapes change, Beloved.
Base religion speaks of God and God’s ways, “God’s laws,” God’s edicts as airtight and immovable.
And yet the Christ spoke of God’s ways as moving mountains (Mark 11:23) and likened them to weed infestation. (Matthew 13:31-32) Dynamic, not stoic.
I knew someone who told me that they, when visiting Colorado, had told a mountain to move. They stood at the base of a mountain and did this. They were so secure in their faith, they said, that they were certainly hopeful, if not certainly certain, that it would shift ever so slightly. Or, perhaps, a stone would fall at that very moment.
Nothing happened, of course, because the analogy is not reality. It is truer than reality…we have trouble grasping that, but that’s kind of the point: it can’t be grasped.
Instead of viewing God as a solid rock, or an old man in the sky who sent a memo in the form of the Bible giving instructions for life (which, honestly, is largely what base religion has taught us: that God is just a more perfect version of the most powerful self we know, giving orders), try viewing God like a doe deep in the woods who you have trouble seeing, but chase after.
Imagine the chase as being the goal, the pursuit. Imagine the tracks you find here and there, as enough evidence to give your soul hope and nourishment that something is worth following, and that the playful way the prints dance gives you a hint that the doe knows you’re following, knows you even, and desires the chase, too.
And when you spot the doe, those times that you do, you only do so because the doe lets you watch it eat, and you’re still enough to notice it. Both things have to happen.
Solid ground is overrated, Beloved.
God is only solid in being fluid. God is only secure in God’s wildness.
I mean, it’s almost like the kind of paradox Jesus spoke about all the time, right? That “lose your life to gain it” thing? I mean, it’s almost like Jesus was dropping hints, making tracks for us to follow the whole time, but we were too busy making him into an idol to see it…