Amongst my favourite places in Scotland is Inverbervie bay. We first holidayed near this part of the Scottish coast in 1980 and ever since Inverbervie and St Cyrus are special places to walk, talk and watch the world around. This morning we went down to Inverbervie and walked from there to Gourdon and back. Pleasant sunshine, enough cloud to keep it cool, and still enough of the summer flowers to make it a walk with colour and a sense of life all around.
As always it starts with a walk along the beach, steeply shelved and with cobbles and pebbles so lovely there are signs telling folk not to steal them! The sound of the waves unfolding and collapsing in a muted crash is one of my favourite sounds. I've walked here in every season, sat in the car in howling gales and lashing rain and even in a blizzard, and never tire of the sound of the sea in this bay. But it's the cobbles that make it so special for me. The mile of beach covered is covered with these smoothed stones, multi-coloured, and with all kinds of geological genealogies traceable in their shapes and substance.
There is something beautiful, accomplished, and spiritually suggestive about stones worn smooth over decades, maybe centuries. The lapidary friction of movement, of external forces of wind, water and other rocks, gradually give shape and character to these accidental rocks, which in all their time and movement, are gradually changing towards a uniqueness of form, colour, weight and shape.
Often I've wondered if all the circumstances and encounters of our lives, the frictions and the movements, through storm forced crashings of grief and loss, and the slow grinding work that is building and maintaining the loves of our lives, and the gradual finding of our place on the beach, juxtaposed with all those other different and unique people who create and provide our life context - yes, I often wonder if the lapidary movements of the sea have their equivalents in this equally demanding lapidary process we call living, and loving, and giving, and growing.
Being a Christian means being changed and being willing to go on changing. Loving and forgiving, crying and laughing, being broken and shaped and re-formed, taking on the shape that all of life's experiences gently impose on the person we are and the person we are becoming. When Paul talks about becoming mature in Christ, of being a new creation, of having the mind of Christ, of each of us being called to lives of faith, hope and love, he's using a spiritual vocabulary that describes the work of the Holy Spirit. And the grinding and crunching of rock on rock, the push and pull of tide, the endless movements, collisions and repositionings, these are all part of being conformed to Christ, transformed with the patient slowness and gentle power of a love that is as vast as any ocean. So I look on these cobbles as works of art, each one an accomplished artefact, all of them different, and each of them carrying in shape, colour and size something of the narrative of the sea, and each one telling the story of their own time and place, and something of how they have come to be here, now, just as they are.