I’ve just returned from a one-off Mediterranean holiday, courtesy of my very generous and thoughtful retired parents. We were treated to a wonderful hotel with attentive staff, great fresh food and a pool with slides and waterfalls for the children.
But every day, all Small Boy (who was a little overwhelmed by the whole experience) wanted to do was to sit on the adjoining beach and play in the sand. The first day this happened, I bit back the irritation that we’d come all this way and he was simply recreating our usual Lancashire beach-side breaks somewhere warm and expensive.
But then I realised – the sand was the only native thing to him in the culture-shock of a foreign environment. Sand is a familiar, perhaps comforting element for all of us – from the sand-tray at nursery, wet walks on the beach, the heat of desert dunes (ouch!).
It’s not surprising that the Bible is full of references to sand. Usually as a simile, sand describes an uncountable multitude, a weight impossible to measure. But sand is also where treasure is hidden – something with the potential to hide or reveal.
Sand can be used as a tool for our prayers and meditation – we can write and draw in it to express our thoughts and prayers; let it run through our hands as we think about the vastness of God, His thoughts about us, His attention to detail (all those tiny colours and shapes), our problems as we perceive them.
Next time you’re sitting by the sand-pit, watching the children, on the beach, or cleaning the last stubborn grains out of shoes, stop for a moment – and use this mundane, copious, beautiful gift – to look to God, His provision, His care for you and find the treasure hidden in the detail.