The foundational bricks of the statues had eroded like shale. Sheets had formed from freezing and thawing, and fallen away. An orange silt deposit had collected around their bases. It was a problem that needed resolution before the structure that held the twelve-foot statues gave way. The St. Francis Garden Society raised the money and I found a stonemason who chipped away the crumbling bricks and replaced them with locally-quarried granite boulders.
The bricks broke down in a mere thirty years. Soil erosion can take even less time—a significant rain, and the downpour can cut a rivulet in a matter of minutes…poor farming practices, and the land is impoverished in just a few years. The wearing away can be devastating and leave nothing but useless waste.
There can be a beauty in erosion, too, that occurs over millennia. Rock formations in deserts, along coastlines, and former watercourses hold a mystery of impossibility at their creation. Hard and seemingly impenetrable, they had been formed by wind and water, elements that we often considered innocuous.
I remember the strange flower-pot pillars at Fathom Five National Marine Park in Canada off the tip of the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario. The rock stacks, a dolomitic formation, have a narrowed base with large flat crowns and tufts of plants. Some of these inverted triangles are well over 60 feet!
When I see pictures of Antelope Canyon in Arizona with their warm tones and smoothed surfaces, they look other-worldly. In the narrowed sunlight, the slot canyon sandstone is layered ribbons of yellow, gold and coral. Worn smooth by water, the stone itself appears to flow.
Erosion is slow and a barely perceptible change. It can be the result of persistent hard assaults, but more often it is in small incremental rubbings.
Evil is powerful not so much because of its overt occurrences—which we can easily spot and muster against—but because of its creeping insidious nature. It takes what is good and changes it ever so slightly so that it appears as if truth persists only slightly tweaked. We tend not to notice the silt accumulating at our feet.
God too rubs away and reforms, but His is the greater force of purposeful strokes. His eroding leaves behind a masterpiece, unique and beautiful, that stands the test of time.
Satan and God both work incrementally, both use erosion. One reduces to rubble while the other reveals an enduring gift.
Image Antelope Canyon by mcconnors, courtesy morguefile.com.