Why a Castle?

Why a Castle?

I must have been around 24 when I had what I’ve come to call the Castle Vision. I know because I’d had my first baby, and we had recently gone to a “family picnic” of all the families my midwives had served. There was a creek there, and that creek was in my mind this morning in my own quiet living room as I was meditating. When I pray, I try to really “see” Jesus there with me, listening to me, talking to me, loving me. Usually it just feels like “me imagining Jesus” even though of course I know He’s there whether I “feel” Him or not. Then, every once in awhile, He makes His presence known in a dramatic way.

worship in the creek

A Google+ enhanced photo of the creek behind my house.

This particular day, in my mind, Jesus and I were together by a creek like the one at the farm. I was praying about my writing. I knew it was what He wanted me to do. It was certainly what I had always longed to do. I had already written reams for myself. But for public consumption? For others to – gulp – read? I knew I could never live up to my own expectations and hopes. Surely it was better not to try than to try and fail . . .


That’s me, working on a sand castle my daughter and I built in Boston several years ago.

Unexpectedly, I found myself kneeling by the creekbank and beginning to build a sand castle. I have always loved castles, sand, stone, or any other variety. I especially admire those awesome, complicated ones that win sand castle contests – you know the ones I mean. But I can’t build them. Sure enough, the one that formed under my inexpert hands looked more like an ungainly pile of mud.

I looked sideways. Jesus was nearly through with a castle that would take your breath away. It had square towers, round towers, little turrets, crenellations, curtain walls, Gothic windows . . . Trimmed with jewels, it sparkled in the sunshine.

“If I could build a castle like that, I would!” I exclaimed enviously.

“I didn’t ask you to build a castle like that,” Jesus told me. “I only need you to build foundations for Me. I’ll build the castles on them.”

I was in my living room again, blinking. I don’t mean I had a vision in the biblical sense of the word. I was never unconscious of my surroundings, or anything like that. But I knew it was real, just the same. My Lord had just spoken unmistakeably to me. And I knew exactly what He meant to say.

He didn’t ask me to write earthshaking masterpieces. He asked me to study the Foundation (Himself) and lay the best ones, in words, that I could. Then He, working through His Holy Spirit, would create earthshaking masterpieces on them. Not necessarily for the world to see. Just in the hearts of readers who read, not to listen to me, but to listen to Him.

Not long after that, I found a poster of a castle much like the one Jesus had built that day. It said, “Fashion a dream, and make it come true.” I stared at it openmouthed. Then I bought it and hung it over my typewriter.

A shot of my (now very old) poster.

A shot of my (now very old) poster.

Over the years, I’ve started to collect other castles, too. I have ones of sand, of pewter, of resin. I have a couple that are fountains. I love them all. But I love my poster best. It’s been there from the beginning. Like me, it’s pretty shabby and tattered by now. It’s hung in quite a few different “office” spaces. Today it hangs over a computer in a real office with walls framed in bulletin boards and white boards. There’s no name, no credit, anywhere on the poster. I don’t know who built the masterpiece of a sand castle, who took the picture, who got the idea to make a poster, who wrote the caption, or who printed it. But I know what it means. It is my mission statement.

Whoever you are who made this thing of beauty, I thank you one and all. And I thank the One who gave your work to me. He knows your names.

And now you know . . .why on earth a castle theme for this website?


I Corinthians 3:10-23, New American Standard Bible, 1973 [I have taken the liberty of making the language inclusive.]

“According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But let each one be careful how s/he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

Now if anyone builds upon the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each one’s work. If anyone’s work which s/he has built upon it remains, s/he shall receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, s/he shall suffer loss; but s/he him/herself shall be saved, yet so as through fire.

Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him/her, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.

Let no one deceive him/herself. If anyone among you think that s/he is wise in this age, let him/her become foolish that s/he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, ‘He is the one who catches the wise in their craftiness’ [Job 5:13] and again, ‘The Lord knows the reasonings of the wise that they are useless.’ [Psalm 94:11]. So then let no one boast in humans. For all things belong to you, whether Paul or Apollo or Cephas or the world or life or death or things present or things to come; all things belong to you, and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God.”