The Space between the Stones

A time to cast away stones

A time to gather stones together

Ecclesiastes 3:5

In the cairn fields referred to in the last blog (May 31st) the stones that are being cast away are also being gathered together to form the cairns. They are being turned into something of significance. Not only are they the resting place of loved ones (and what could be more important than that?) they are also creating the boundaries for the fields. They have become functional and been given purpose.

The land was divided into parcels, possibly to be worked by different people, or to separate the crops. The cairns and linear piles of stones creating the boundaries help prevent or direct the drainage of water, to stop the soil from draining away.

This is a useful metaphor for our lives. Sometimes we need to put things to one side. We may need to say ‘no’ to the expectations people put on us, for example. Or we may need to recognise our own limitations and decide to work and live within them, instead of pushing ourselves too far. This ‘casting away’ or putting things to one side helps us to develop useful boundaries. We can then tend to what needs attention within them. These boundaries can help prevent our ‘good soil’ from being drained away – and this may include emotional and physical energy. There are times when we need to conserve our energy within our boundaries, so we can put it into growing and developing, in the counselling process for example. Or we may just need to preserve our energy so we have enough to deal with the primary and immediate demands being made of us, that we genuinely must attend to.

Boundaries provide a protected and safe environment for us to grow on the fertile soil of the soul, without it being drained away. Sometimes we need to give ourselves permission to do this.

It is true that people can try and knock them down or walk through them. Sometimes it can be difficult to keep them in place. However, it is an expression of self-respect when we are able to maintain our boundaries when we can. This also encourages other people to treat us with more respect as a response.

Sometimes keeping our boundaries is really difficult, but it is something to aim for. It is a tool to help us nurture and grow - in the Space between the Stones - to preserve or become, the person we really want to be.