Grains of Sand

Grains of Sand is a rebrand. I originally called this blog The Jog. That has run its course. The blog was The Jog but now it’s just Grains of Sand. Why?

  1. Grains ain’t heavy and take themselves lightly
  2. I like my questions blowing’ in the wind
  3. I like the sound of sand sifting in the sea
  4. There are too many to count
  5. Jesus did all his best writing in sand

There’s rocks and then there is sand. Or is it the other way round? Time managers insist on getting to the rocks first but that suggests we don’t have to make time for the grains of sand. I get concerned that the blogosphere will be taken over by experts with their weighty opinions. Am I wrong in thinking that posts are getting longer and look more like journal articles? It’s as if they’re uttering the last word. I’m wanting space for the first words of consciousness and wonder.

They’re too many count. Nobody in their right mind would ever dream of counting grains of sand (although it might be a better way of getting sleep than counting sheep). In the Bible grains of sand stand for plenty. They stand for the extent of his love and the extent of his amazing grace. When we say “how much?”, we hear “so much, you can’t even begin to count”. His love and his mercy is measured in grains of sand.

How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand (Psalm 139:17f)

The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven and said “… I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore.” (Genesis 12:17)

The sins I have committed against you
are more in number than the sands of the sea. (Manasseh 1:9)

Jesus did his best writing in the sand. I say that because there’s no evidence that he did any writing other than the writing he did in the sand (John 8:1-12). In this passage Jesus subverts the judgments of his community.His opponents framed a woman – they said “caught in adultery”. They want Jesus to confirm the judgement that she should be stoned to death but Jesus refuses. He writes in the sand. He says the first stone should be cast by the one without sin – at which her (and his) accusers put their stones down and leave. Jesus, as the one without sin, should have been the one to cast the first stone. Instead he says, “I don’t condemn you”.

We don’t know what Jesus wrote in the sand. Instead we read into his writing his merciful love and his despair at those who don’t realise the damage they are doing when they judge others. There is one  fanciful suggestion (Derrett) that what Jesus did write was two verses from scripture. He was sitting down when he wrote – the theory is he would have been able to reach as far as being able to write only 16 Hebrew characters, which might have been:

“Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong… do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd.”(Exodus 23:2) and
“Have nothing to do with a false charge.” (Exodus 23:7)

We just don’t know what he wrote. But if the suggestion is true, or if he wrote something similar, it is clear that it was the malice of the chargers that bothered Jesus, not the alleged wrong of the woman. I would say that this is beautiful writing, calligraphy that spares the ones the world accuses (rightly or wrongly) – writing for salvation.

That is the way to write, with the grain of that sand. So Grains of Sand it is. Just a few grains, a tiny part of a large harvest. Just grains, secreted and buried in the blogosphere. It’s not for me to know what happens next. Thanks for reading and thanks to all fellow sifters.

To Blog or Not – that is the question


Dear Linda and Mary (I’ve changed your names)

I was interested by your question, whether to blog or not. I thought I’d use a blog post to respond. It might seem less personal than an email response, or over the desk conversation, but others might be able to eavesdrop on this conversation if I blog in answer to your question. (And that is just one of the advantages of blogging.)

I have hit a brick wall with my blogging recently. I had thought that those who were posting had become more “expert” about their content. That was off-putting and intimidating. That might just have been an excuse I was using because I wasn’t finding the time for blogging (and I didn’t seem to have any inspiration). Here’s a summary of excuses I could have used (and being able to make these links is another advantage of blogging).

But your question has caused me to re-think.

You will notice from blogs you’ve read that there is a lot of learning contained in people’s posts. There is a lot of expertise on technical matters, as, for example, in this post on how to set up a blog (which you may find useful). But then, you really don’t have to be an expert to blog. I regard my blog as a memory bank – a jog for my memory and a way of reflecting on what I notice. It’s a workbench on which I can hammer out a few ideas. They’ll never be finished or finely polished, but I am learning and the blog is a useful place to put some of that learning.

I also don’t see any point in keeping things to myself. I do have a heart for some things and I do have a voice which is not to be kept silent, in spite of my introverted nature. I don’t believe that any of us should hide our light under a bushel (particularly in dark times) and I do believe that we should be sharing what we know in as many ways as we can.

But then, there are people who complain of the noise. They say that there is so much out there – so much noise, but so little sense: so much information but so little wisdom. Probably the same complaint has echoed through human history, from the time we started to talk, to the advent of the postal services, to the current development of online social media (social media is as old as our talk). Unless we use our intelligence to interpret the noise our talk will be babble, our mail will be junk and our conversation meaningless. Blogging is just another way of talking things through together – a way of publishing. Nobody needs to buy into what we have to say – but it is what we have to say, it is our part of the conversation. (I tried working this out in a post I called Chitter-Chatter five years ago – see how I can refer back to what I have done?)

I do have a bit of a problem about how social media fits my work culture. It’s widely seen as a distraction. But if we work by sharing then blogging seems an ideal means to that end.

I would be interested in what you have to say because I know that you are in unique situations and I would love to know what you are making of those situations given your own passions and interests. I won’t promise to keep up with your posts if you do choose to blog though I will click the “follow” button.

It doesn’t really matter to me how many “readers” or followers we have. I think I am the main beneficiary of my own blog because of the opportunity it gives me to do some creative writing, because it gives somewhere to put my stuff, because it helps me work things out of me and because it makes me interesting to me.

Happy blogging

PS You might be interested in this no-excuses guide to blogging from Sacha Chua. She suggests that you always start with a question when you blog. So I did. To blog or not to blog – I am grateful that you asked me the question. Why not have a look at Sacha’s blog for some inspiration?


> Thank you, friend Julia for last night’s question – “are you still blogging?” – a painful dig in the ribs and reminder of former passion before going off the track – off the rails – whatever. The dig in the ribs brought a 5 o’clock wake up call to get back on track by backtracking.

What has happened? Well we have moved. Does that count? I suppose it counts more for some than it does for others. For a parish priest it counts a lot especially if it’s a completely different track to tread. The present track is an ordinary one – well worn by so many others. It is an anonymous track that is remarkably unremarkable. The path of the parish priest is a path less trod which verges on celebrity status and power walking.

The running stopped with the blogging. Former routes were all part of a plan for the sense of achievement of the Chester half marathon (at my age!)- there are new tracks, but they seem so insecure mainly because of the dogs.

For the moment – let’s say “I am back on track” – tentatively and lacking confidence. Was the suggestion of a reader over my shoulder the spur I needed? Those readers have gone and remain part of a track that became too deeply rutted for me to travel any further. We parted company resigning my identity of addresses – email, phone – and that driveway I should have so resented. Let’s say I am back on a new track – a pioneer in a wilderness – with this as an opportunity to reflect on a way ahead – spiritual journalling revisited, not as Jogger but as Foxtrotter – ready to explore Lightmoments and grateful that the dislocation was no more painful than it was. It’s a road less travelled – for me anyway.

Thank you Julia. And thank you Fergal OP for the photo – two roads diverged in a yeallow wood.