We stand together on the shore, you and I, watching the night sky.
We both agree we are land-bound and each pines to know the sea.
In our hands we can hold some sand; to me, yours looks the same as mine –
just tiny fragments of the whole, in numbers greater than ourselves.
You use your sand to draw a line between us. As it trickles from
your hand, I wonder why you mark the boundary there and not out
there at the ocean’s edge, where we both see our path’s limitations.
Instead, you tell me that my grains are false and you cannot use them.
I wonder where your few handfuls, that I saw you scoop next to mine
(made of the same small hard stuff, broken from the same giant whole)
became so different from the rest, when you had time to sort these few
in the short time we both had here, how you learned to separate them
from all others on this great span. They are just grains of sand, my friend;
there are millions of them out here, but alone they are not the whole.
Only if placed here together can they make a way for we two
to trail our toes in the vastness that is the sea, from whence we came.
But you reject my small quartz bits, and claim the beach in your sand’s name.
You come at night and wreck castles built of other grains, and on the spot
construct some great monstrosity (that uses some of my sand, too).
By day and night you guard it well, thinking it achieves all that sand
was ever meant to do or be. You cry that your castle weakens,
that when you look, evil sweeps down to brush away your great design.
Sometimes you sound insane, when you insist yours is in fact the only sand
there is, even as the rest of the beach clings to your feet and hands;
Sometimes, when the wind blows strongly, and the air fills with the surf mist,
I see you try to rub the salt from your eyes, cursing the ocean.
Not evil, but the sea itself fights you. For your sand grains are stained
with blood, and the walls of your shrine are tamped with hatred and deceit.
That must be why your sand differs from the rest, and why so many
others, when you offer to share, choose from grains that you have not saved.
26 AUG 2003
An Allegorical Response to Christian Exhortations and Concerns