My name is Ken Hart. Stories are a big part of my work world. I am a hospice Chaplain and I have found that the people I care for relate very well to stories. Below is one of these stories and an explanation for how I apply it to those I care for. The kind of needs I address day after day are universal and I am confident that this story and its explanation will be helpful to everyone.
Two Castle Builders
Hot sun. Salty air. Rhythmic waves.
A little boy is on his knees scooping and packing the sand with plastic shovels into a bright blue bucket. Then he upends the bucket on the surface and lifts it. And, to the delight of the little architect, a castle tower is created.
All afternoon he will work. Spooning out the moat. Packing the walls. Bottle tops will be sentries. Popsicle sticks will be bridges. A sandcastle will be built.
Big city. Busy streets. Rumbling traffic.
A man is in his office. At his desk he shuffles papers into stacks and delegates assignments. He cradles the phone on his shoulder and punches the keyboard with his fingers. Numbers are juggled and contracts are signed and much to the delight of the man, a profit is made.
All his life he will work. Formulating the plans. Forecasting the future. Annuities will be sentries. Capital gains will be bridges. An empire will be built.
Two builders of two castles. They have much in common. They shape granules into grandeurs. They see nothing and make something. They are diligent and determined. And for both the tide will rise and the end will come.
Yet that is where the similarities cease. For the boy sees the end while the man ignores it. Watch the boy as the dusk approaches.
As the waves near, the wise child jumps to his feet and begins to clap. There is no sorrow. No fear. No regret. He knew this would happen. He is not surprised. And when the great breaker crashes into his castle and his masterpiece is sucked into the sea, he smiles. He smiles, picks up his tools, takes his father’s hand, and goes home.
The grownup, however, is not so wise. As the wave of years collapses on his castle he is terrified. He hovers over the sandy monument to protect it. He blocks the waves from the walls he has made. Salt-water soaked and shivering he snarls at the incoming tide.
“It’s my castle,” he defies.
The ocean need not respond. Both know to whom the sand belongs…
I don’t know much about sandcastles. But children do. Watch them and learn. Go ahead and build, but build with a child’s heart. When the sun sets and the tides take – applaud. Salute the process of life and go home.
This is one of the best written pieces I have run across. It deals so effectively with the cycle of life and healthy preparation for the end part of the cycle. For the people I visit, the tides of life are washing in surely and quickly. Helping them to have child-like faith is essential. It is the person with child-like faith who can embrace the reality of the incoming tide because he has a perspective that says, “I knew this would happen.” Accepting the cycle of life allows a person to build their castle in life with a child’s heart so that when the sun sets and the tide takes, they can applaud, salute the process of life, and go home. I love the way the boy is described in the story as dusk approaches, “As the waves near, the wise child jumps to his feet and begins to clap. There is no sorrow. No fear. No regret. He knew this would happen. He is not surprised. And when the great breaker crashes into his castle and his masterpiece is sucked into the sea, he smiles. He smiles, picks up his tools, takes his father’s hand, and goes home.”
The sooner we embrace such perspectives on the end of life, the more healthy we will be in our approach to living wherever we are in the cycle of life. When I begin visiting a person, I tell them that my job as a Chaplain is to help them keep looking up and to keep their faith. I always say, “faith makes a difference, doesn’t it?” Almost invariably they say, “yes, I don’t know how people face life without faith.” I then say this to them, “I have found that faith has two main parts to it. First, faith is the assurance that God loves us and is with us in Spirit every moment of every day he gives to us helping us get through life in the best way possible. In whatever we face, God majors on producing in us a great sense of well-being by providing the peace and comfort of his presence. Second, faith is the assurance that in addition to his being with us in Spirit while we are here, we will be with him forever in Heaven someday when he is ready for us and says, “come on home.” Just having these assurances bring us a lot of peace and comfort, don’t they?
The stories I share with the people I visit, allow me to share again and again this two-fold understanding of faith from different angles. I hope that the lessons of faith gained from this story will bless your life in special ways and that you might come to know the full provision of God’s wondrous grace.
Posted on Sat, March 9, 2019
by Ken Hart