The day after Easter, in an email to my neurologist, I described my physical function as "approaching absolute zero." That's how it felt, slowing, slowing. Daily, the things I could do were diminishing, illustrated, maybe too graphically, by Easter dinner, which I could not swallow a bite of. I could hardly get the fork from the plate to my own mouth, so my husband fed me a peach yogurt. I was becoming as immovable as stone.
It sounds worse than it was, though I will concede that it looked pretty bad. But on the inside, I felt better than I can easily explain. I did not feel sorry that I could not eat the ham and potatoes. I felt grateful that I could eat the yogurt.
Maybe that's what absolute zero can bring, that sort of acceptance. Maybe rock bottom means exactly that, that we've arrived at the immovable ground. There, at the rocky bottom, my choices were (and are, but we'll get to that another time) limited. I could beat my head against the stone floor. I could pound and scratch. We, the rock and I, could have it out. It's not going anywhere. Neither am I. At rock bottom, in the moment of our arrival there, there's no way out.
A more subtle truth is that, were I really sitting on a floor of stone, I don't have the physical strength to beat or pound or scratch. Maybe that bald fact is what made it easier for me instead to do what I did, which was to sit still and wait.
Come to him, a living stone, rejected by human beings but chosen and precious in the sight of God, and, like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it says in scripture:
"Behold, I am laying a stone in Zion,Living stone. Built into a spiritual house. Chosen and precious. We shall not be put to shame. That sounds so very beautiful. And it bears absolutely no resemblance to the picture in my mind of me, at the bottom of a stone pit. Not living or spiritual or precious. Just damp and dark and grey and cold. More like Joseph's well, deep and open at the top. Like a tomb, only on its side.
a cornerstone, chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in it shall not be put to shame." (1 Peter 2:4-6)
Can both of those things be true? Can the stone at rock bottom be cold and grey and precious and alive?
If that were true, we still might not want to live there, but we could build on the foundation. Cold, grey stone is good for that. The wise man builds his house upon the rock.
"The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone" (Psalm 118:22; cf. Matthew 21:42). Those builders' expectations must have been more like mine. Wouldn't it be better to find a stone that's not so rough, one that's not at the bottom of a well? The Master Builder had other ideas.
Now here I am, among the rubble. The Builder is rummaging around, and, evidently, He is going to use me too to build this spiritual house. I've got to tell you, I wonder sometimes at His judgment. As stones go, I'm a pretty ragged specimen. It's going to take a fair amount of mortar to fit my jagged edges into a structure that's going to stand firm. It's not likely to be pretty.
Sitting at Easter dinner being spoon-fed a yogurt is as aggressive a challenge as I can think of to "not being put to shame." But I felt no shame. I felt loved and fed.