To see a World in a Grain of Sand And a Heaven in a Wild Flower, Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand And Eternity in an hour. - William Blake
My heart has been broken a dozen times this evening; broken, restored, broken again. The heavy things of life laid anchor, pulling my self-ship to a rocky and unanticipated stall. In which ways do we humans grow?
Why must the work of being break hearts?
“All rocks, even the tough ones, like granite and its relatives, rot. The weakest links in the chain are the first to go, and in a granite these are the feldspar crystals and their fellow silicates. Quartz is made of sterner stuff, thanks to its internal structure…quartz is a survivor, hard, resistant, and extremely difficult to dissolve. In granite, each crystal of quartz is surrounded by weaker neighbors [which] corrode rapidly. Feldspars rot away. Support for the quartz grain vanishes and, like a loose tooth, it drops out of the rock. A sand grain has been born.”
A boulder, erected strong and firm, stands flaunting his components once bound together in the depths of earth’s furnace. Formed thus, our boulder–the furnace heating and cooling–was shaped, melted, shaped again. Within him lies the quartz, and if we want to draw the picture toward our own humanity, we might say the quartz is just waiting to be set free. It’s only a matter of time. When the feldspars rot, they are rotted by tree roots and lichen, by acidic rain; they are corroded by water and wind. The support that the quartz once held dear falls away; she is suddenly (and, if we are making this a parable, quite frighteningly) born anew and free.
“Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again…Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.'”
So she tumbles, again and again, our quartz, to become sandstone, to be set free, to become sandstone, to be set free.
Sand grains originally born from granite long ago may accumulate, be buried, and become naturally glued together, lithified into a solid clastic sedimentary rock, a sandstone. When this, in its turn, is exposed at the surface, it is attacked by weathering and the sand grains are liberated again. The whole process is cyclic…perhaps half of all sand grains have been through six cycles in the mill, liberated, buried, exposed and liberated again–as observed by Emerson, reborn repeatedly.
I am moved to think of my own life reflected in the crystal of quartz. With our ages and our stages, with our supports in one season being memories in the next, with our hearts born and yet reborn repeatedly, with our being sanctified already and being sanctified still, we tumble and rise, we glue and we break free. Ever growing, ever changing, ever becoming, ever leaving, ever being who we were at the first created to be.
“The endless journeys that sand grains take age them. Sharp edges and angular corners are knocked off even durable quartz grains by the constant battering as grains collide with one another. However, once a grain has become smooth and round, it stays that way, with little further change, for enormous lengths of time.”
“Only remember now, that there is nothing wonderful in the world outside you but has its counterpart of something just as wonderful, and perhaps more wonderful, inside you. Man is the microcosm, the little world, said the philosophers of old; and philosophers nowadays are beginning to see that their old guess is actual fact, and true.”
– Madam How and Lady Why by Charles Kingsley