Castles we build, some filigreed and grand, some solid and plain, structures scraped and molded from the ground beneath our feet, the dust that forms us and will reclaim us. Sand castles are defiant shouts against the deafening roar of the inevitably victorious surf.
“This will last forever.”
Forever, like a diamond, like a marriage, like a bff promise. There is no forever in this world. One man sows and another gathers his fruit; there is no certainty here. Seasons there are: seedtime and harvest, plenty and want, building and washing away. Some castles last longer than others, but nothing lasts forever.
“I will not be defeated.”
Nor will our team, nor our party, nor our nation. Right is on our side. Little matter. The walls, well-built and high above the surf line, battlements against the battle of earth and sea and sky, are made of nothing. Millions of tiny grains of nothing, leftover someone elses, decayed somethings, lifeless stuff piled into fortresses cannot stop death and destruction.
“This time will be different.”
Our species lives in hope. Maybe that defines us. Surely it has something to do with our survival, success after failure after failure after failure. The poor will always be with us. The hungry will never be filled. The emperor is wearing no clothes. Yet we build again, feed again, hope again. We conceive one more solution, execute one more plan, build one more castle, and the waves and the wind and the sand devour it.
“Here I stand.”
The very ground beneath our feet is unstable, water separating the grains as heels, then toes, then ankles sink into the sucking earth. Without moving we lose ground quite literally as it washes away from our firmly planted feet. This is no place to make a stand.
There is no other place to stand; what must we do to be safe? Should we run? Fast and free, dancing in and out of the surf, will we run heedless of the cutting sand, the stinging salt, rejoicing in the music of the elements? There is no safety there. One misstep and tendons twist, ligaments stretch, bones snap. Should we retreat? Shall we move away from the line, away from the ever-evident eroding, away to a calm and quiet retreat? We cannot live without the water, nor can we breathe without the wind, and the illusion of solid ground is one we must choose to believe even far from this place. Should we rest? Shall we lie down and wait to die, wait for the windblown sand to cut us into tiny pieces to be washed away, wait until we become parts of the shifting substance of the world we mistrust? Should we not stand instead? Shall we stand facing the sea, building what we can, accepting the failures, rejoicing in the moments spent here, alive? At the end of the day, will we look back and wish we’d never built, or will we celebrate the memories of work and play, perhaps cherishing a bit of shell, a piece of special beauty saved from the barrage of the elements?
We do stand, yes, and shout into the wind, and our words rush back down our throats as the waves faint at our feet. Messengers they, expiring with the words they must bring to save us, completing their marathon journey with the reminder: “Joy, we win!”
John 16:33 “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”