One of the many Biblical metaphors for the Divine Presence/God is that of a rock. Many of these images, especially in the Psalms, relate to a place of refuge, a shelter from the storm. For example:
“Hear my cry, O God; Give heed to my prayer. From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For You have been a refuge for me, A tower of strength against the enemy. “ (Psalm 61: 1-3)
“Incline Your ear to me, rescue me quickly; Be to me a rock of strength, A stronghold to save me. For You are my rock and my fortress; For Your name’s sake You will lead me and guide me.” (Psalm 31:2-3)
“Trust in the LORD forever, For in God the Lord we have an everlasting Rock” (Isaiah 26:4)
Recently I have found myself yearning for a shelter, a refuge, a place of quiet from the storm. With the constantly shifting political landscape, it is tempting to find a place to hide and wait for the storm to pass. It helps me to know that I can retreat from time to time to rest, “Be to me a rock of habitation to which I may continually come.” (Psalm 71.3), but I know I can’t stay there. I feel the need to engage with my community and work together to create healthy alternatives to the forces of greed and exploitation and injustice.
Besides the image of refuge, rocks can also represent obstacles, challenges. For example, when we take our canoe down the Upper Chena River and I am in the bow, I constantly watch for submerged rocks that could hang us up. They are not places of refuge or safety. Maneuvering around them takes some skill, experience, communication, and trust. But they are part of the river, and they make the trip interesting.
Whether a rock is a refuge or a challenge may depend in part on where I am in my journey. Do I need a challenge to make things interesting, or do I need a respite from dealing with issues in the world? And I believe God is present in both situations, guiding me and giving me what I need.