About 800 years ago, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church gave quite a gift to the world of architecture. Lalibela, in northern Ethiopia has a number of stone churches, unique in that they were built by carving stone out of the ground, and carrying away everything that was not part of the church they were building. I've included a couple photos, since the concept is a bit hard to describe if you haven't seen pictures before. A great photo gallery can be found here.

I've been somewhat fascinated by these buildings lately, maybe a little more because there is a chance we could end up living in Ethiopia for a couple years of medical training. But more fascinating is the idea of worshipping in a hole carved out of the ground. In a larger sense, it may be more often than we realize that God carves a part of us out, in order to create a space for worship.
So I wrote a song. As Rachel often reminds me, lyrics without music are incredibly incomplete, which is true but somewhat unavoidable in this medium. Maybe this will mean something to you.

Lalibela (God hews out of stone)
africa has holes, carved deep in the ground
solemn joy centuries agorubble washed away
pick and spade swing down
ardor lets the heavens in below

God hews out of stone
All we call our own
Severe, your mercy falls
Leaving love to grow
As it echoes off the wall

so the woman at the well asks the Teacher where
worship will be offered at its best
the temple or the hills, but we descend the stair
and worship within the emptiness

i wouldn't let it go, but you could take it from my side
carve it out, and give me breath again
let the heavens blow, and push the oceans wide
space where ardor hears the praise begin


Teresa said...

You should make a YouTube video of you playing/singing the song for us, and post that on your blog. I don't know how to do that, but Clayton does. That would be awesome!