Chiseling It Out

Written By: Chris Mace
Chiseling It Out

The Stone Cutter, Stonington, Maine

This Stone Cutter sculpted by William Muir is situated on the public wharf at Stonington as a memorial to those who mined and sculpted granite from Maine quarries. In the early 1900’s there were as many as 152 quarries in Maine, where slate and limestone as well as granite were mined. At one point there were thirty three operative, coastal island granite quarries. Immigrants from Finland, Scotland, Sweden and Italy added their expertise to the substantial workforce cutting and shaping blocks and pavers used in constructing historical buildings, monuments, tombs, bridges and roads throughout Europe and America. Known for its beauty, strength and texture, Maine granite exhibits distinctive patterns and color varieties ranging from white to gray and pink to lavender-tinged depending on the mineral content.

Life is a bit like quarrying! We are all stone cutters searching for bedrock!

We seek security, stability, opportunity, freedom. History reveals that. The flag fluttering behind the sculpture is a reminder of resolve and dedication. American democracy is founded upon the courage and blood of patriots and upon foundational documents which have guided and cohesed its people for two and a half centuries. Whether a building, an organization, a document, or a relationship, we look within for substance, for strong, enduring, binding and anchoring foundations. We dig into the bedrock of human thought and experience. We try to find our shape as unique individuals. We want meaning and purpose. We want to be loved, so we learn how to value relationships. We search for our strengths and skills, challenge our intellects and gifts, and develop interests, trades, professions, hobbies, and test ourselves- and those around us!

During explorations of self and purpose, some will be content with the foundational values and beliefs their cultures and families have held for centuries. Many will mine and integrate the ideas, theories, revelations, experiences, and convictions of others while chipping out a world view that seems contemporary and meaningful. As we carve out values and beliefs from cultural mores, religious dogma and traditions, and secular philosophies, we become either God believers or skeptics. We discover Him or chisel Him out by ignoring or rejecting Him.

In an increasingly individualistic, humanistic society, the existence or role of God is viewed as lacking importance. People are identifying less and less with religious beliefs, and church has little relevance for many. The “none’s” are a growing entity. Christian identity often seems to be achieved by the process of exclusion. If one is not Jewish, or Muslim, or Hindu or a member of some cultural /religious entity, then one may identify as Christian.

One can not sincerely claim to be Christian with out checking out Christ. Christianity is much more than choosing a name. It may involve discerning the strength and genuineness of myriads of theories, revelations, feelings, experiences, and evidences about life and its origins, meaning, and purposes, but the place of discovery about God and Christ is Scripture.

One scriptural metaphor for God is a “rock”. As the omnipotent protector of human souls, He is strong and unmovable in His faithfulness. In Him is “no variation or shadow of turning.” He is consistently good, loving and just regardless of the time of day or season or century; His grace, His redemptive purposes, and His love became incarnate in Christ, who said that he was Truth and had come to testify to truth, (John 14:6; 18:37)

For the believer, Christ is the reference point, the “touchstone”, the standard by which one judges and recognizes God’s holiness, justice, and mercy and humanity’s need for redemption. He is alive and well, is God’s redemptive plan, and is the “cornerstone ” around whom all truth is built. Our “personal truths” change with situations and maleable ethics, but Christ is “the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) He is God’s wisdom to us and the solid foundation upon which to build life; a relationship with him is the Way back to God. He once told the story of a foolish man and a wise man and the consequences of their choses of the different foundations upon which they built their lives. The wise man heard and follow the teachings of Christ and survived life’s winds and floods. Tragically the foolish man did not. (Matthew 7:24)

Edward Mote’s 1834 hymn could be considered a stone cutter’s hymn because it summarizes rather beautifully these thought about solid foundations. The third verse states that: “Not earth, nor hell, my soul can move/ I rest upon unchanging love/ I trust his righteous character/ his counsel, promise, and his power.” And then the refrain: On Christ the solid rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.

If we seek, if we look in the right places, if we sift through the “sinking sand”, we will find the bedrock on which to build faith and eternal hope.


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