In the Nathaniel Hawthorne book, The House of the Seven Gables, the author had one of the characters make this statement: “Life is made up of marble and mud.” The very first time I read that, I was struck with the profundity of such a down to earth (in the most literal of ways) statement. In fact, homespun wisdom has always intrigued me as well as provoked me to meditate upon the point of such observations. Such is the case with this one and I thought you might be interested to consider the point as well.
Marble, when compared to mud, is a hardened stone and is very often used by artisans to build structures as well as for accentuating certain parts of a structure (e.g. flooring). It has also been commonly used by artists, from ancient times, to shape and form sculptures. Some of the most famous sculptures in all of history were carved and formed from marble. The word, itself, comes from a Greek term that means “shining” or “sparkling stone.” To this day, marble is used for just that reason — to sparkle and make a statement that exudes elegance as well as endurance. Then there’s mud.
Mud is nothing more than water and earth and certainly nothing to get excited about; in fact, it can be quite messy and aggravating. When we built our house a couple of years ago, we were surrounded by dirt and rocks, in other words, no grass. When it rained (and it seemed like it rained a lot in the beginning) we were surrounded and harassed by mud — sticky, gooey, gets-on-and-in-everything, rock-infested mud. It doesn’t shine and sparkle; it stains and annoys. Yes I know that when it is mixed with certain binders, like straw for example, it can be used for beneficial purposes like bricks. Nevertheless, when compared to marble, it comes up short — way short.
Hawthorne’s point seems to be that there are times in our life that sparkle and shine and make living seem just a bit easier.
Beyond doubt, those are the times that we look forward to and are hesitant to let go of because we know, by experience, that tomorrow may be another “mud day.” I guess another way to look at it is to say that we don’t spend as much time on top of the mountain as we do in the valley. Still, both serve an important purpose — just like marble and mud.
As I’m writing this, I’m looking out my back window at a beautiful sight — grass. What used to be brown and ugly is now green and pastoral and that got me to thinking — were it not for what had been so unappealing, there would be no grass to enjoy. That ugly dirt that I, at one time, abhorred, once shaped and seeded, played a very important role in what I am so appreciative of now. I guess what I’m trying to say is that, were it not for the mud we have to put up with in life, we might not appreciate the marble as we should. We may have to spend most of our life trudging through the valley but it makes us appreciate the mountaintop experience even more.
As followers of Messiah, we aren’t promised a life without hardship and trouble. To the contrary, He has alerted us to the fact that, in this life, we will have tribulations — or let’s put it this way; we will have to put up with a lot of mud. Nevertheless, if we will allow Him, Yeshua can use that mud, aggravating as it is, for a wonderful purpose. For instance, on one occasion Yeshua made mud with His own saliva and healed a man blind from birth. So if He can use mud to bring light into one person’s life, He can do it for us as well. Yes, life is truly made up of marble and mud, but regardless of what we may be experiencing right now, we can be confident that it will serve a useful purpose in our life. Be blessed.
Blessings and Shalom,
Bill & Beth