A time to gather stones, and then to scatter them…

I received a lovely thing today. One of our guests over the weekend left behind a gift for both Michaela and I.

Mine was a little bag full of tiny black stones, each one with a word in tiny writing.

When you put the sentence together, it read

…a time to gather stones and a time to scatter them…

The words of course, are from Ecclesiastes chapter 3. This is a special chapter for me, as I spent a very creative time writing a series of poems based around it, which became part of ‘Listing’.

At present, I am wondering whether I am gathering stones, or scattering them.

In some ways, I am building- all the plans we have for different ways of making a living. In other ways, it feels as if I am taking hold of a handful of stones and throwing them in the air, waiting to see where they all land.

It made me return to those old poems I had written. It is a strange thing to do, as they arise very much in the moment, and so to consider them anew is difficult. The one that impacted me was this one;

A time to gather

There is a time for all things under heaven…

There’s a murmur and mutter of holy unrest
They’re coming
So look to the north, the east and the west
They’re coming

Fools now wise in the way of the One
Captives unchained, once more on the run
Broken people splinted and cast
Winners now all prepared to be last

Sick folk nursed and discharged
Narrow people with lives now enlarged
Bitterness sweetened and ready to serve
Unworthy who get more than they deserve

Useless people ready to be used
The inexcusable being excused
The unstable stop up-and-downing
Depressives learn to start clowning

Sensitive souls softened to others
Orphans find fathers and mothers
The outsiders will sit by the fire
The lazybones now never tire

The tuneless will learn how to sing
The lame will dance Highland fling
The childless will learn how to mother
The selfish will favour the other

The talentless learn brand new skills
Megalomaniacs surrender their wills
Soldiers lay down the gun
The miserable start to have fun


Angry folk fit a long fuse
Drinkers will give up the booze
Sinners like me will no longer be
And the faithless will spiritually see

The becoming of God are flowing together
For now is the time
To gather

When I wrote this, it was a poem of yearning. A few years down the line, despite the battering taken from the ups and downs of community it is still there.

One of the challenges for sensitive damaged souls like me is the tendency towards isolation. I believe that community should be our goal and our aim, in spite of our experience of community.

I was grateful for the gift, and for the little slice of community- thanks Raine!

4 thoughts on “A time to gather stones, and then to scatter them…

  1. Thanks for this Chris…very apposite in all sorts of ways. Be good to catch up sometime we are in Dunoon….though who knows when this might be! Alison

      • Baking hot down here too…..sitting in the library trying to finish the last long essay before leaving Cuddesdon (on the very interesting subject of ‘open table’ at the Eucharist in the C of E…however, still wish I was out in the sun…). Leave here in two weeks, back to London for curacy at end June…..not sure whether stones are scattering or gathering, but they are certainly moving!!

  2. Hi Chris and all,
    How lovely to see the stones on your page ! I’m pleased you liked them and that they had significance for you. I had a nudging that they had your name on them…
    I love your poems, so touching. Looking forward to another visit sometime.

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