The covenant in stone

‘Listen,’ I say, ‘you are my people, and I am your God. Listen to me, and understand me. See what kind of God I am by what I demand of you.’

I am shouting. It is like trying to make myself heard through a thick blanket, a sheepskin. There is so little they know, and so much I must tell. I lead them through deserted places, trying to get their attention, trying to lead them to open their minds to me.

They come to understand that I love them and want their attention. They understand I will make demands, and they accept this. That is good, that is covenant, the wilderness covenant.

I lead them to new places, I journey with them. I cry to them: ‘Listen, learn who I am by what I demand.’ The half understood demands change. I see in horror how distorted my voice becomes and in pain I watch as they make rules in my name which twist my meanings. They understand so much and so little and it takes so long to make them hear. I see by what they imagine how little they know me.

They want certainty, they want simple rules set in stone. I am calling for a long journey until they can see my heart. They want stone, and I want flesh and blood. It is hard for them. When they react to each circumstance they are too swayed by ungoverned desires. They need commandments.

They grow. They see that I demand clean clear thought, and the heart’s understanding. Now they draw out a set off commands which are full of compassion and sense. They juggle the numbers until they can be ticked off on the fingers, memorable. These are better than their understanding of them. These are stepping stones, firm beneath the foot. Each is true and good, and they will find them harder to keep than they think. I will bless their setting these in stone.

They imagine these commands laid down in the hallowed time, the wilderness time. It is good. Let the dross go and let good stay. Let my people grow. Let them journey into their stones. Let them draw out more and more understanding.

For I am still shouting as though through blankets, sheepskins. I still demand flesh and not stone.

6 thoughts on “The covenant in stone

  1. Wonderful association of ideas – “let my people grow” I hear in Tippet’s setting of the spirituals in Child of our Tiime! And what a week of the Commandments …

  2. if anyone doubts that blogs build community, they need to look at how ideas across this blog and several related blogs spiral out.

    it’s a fascinating window on how the spirit works: prompting a field of ideas, mediating them through different personalities across ‘impersonal’ distances, then bringing them all together so we can begin thinking again.

  3. I’d written about two thirds of it before (see who I am by what I demand elements and stepping stones) I read your ‘commandments’ but they were deeply influential in drawing me back to the Deuternominic/Jeremian elements(demand flesh and not stone) now found in it.

  4. Clean, clear thought is not always the easiest for growth in the world of God. Thank you Rosemary for this beautiful writing….

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