Sifting Sand In Ecuador. A Lesson Learned.

Have you ever sifted sand? Sifting sand that will be used for building? In deep thought this morning reflecting on some of my own past and thinking about a friend who is struggling right now. The thought of sifting sand came into my mind.

When we do things that make us feel shame and guilt, those things weigh us down. They are like stones. Not boulders, but palm sized stones. Every time we make poor choices that result in guilty actions, we pick up one of those stones and put it in our own personal ruck sack. We carry those with us. Eventually, those stones begin to wear us down. The pack becomes too heavy. We’re unable to feel anything else but that heavy pack of burden on our back. It’s full of those stones that represent actions we’ve experienced in our lives. Somewhere along the line, that ruck sack breaks us.

Some people start filling their ruck with those stones at a young age. Those stones can also be traumas we’ve experienced against us. Sure, we’ve made most the bad decisions which resulted in us picking up yet another stone to carry, but sometimes others’ actions against us have resulted in those stones of burdens being placed in our ruck. Those stones represent negative experiences. What about the good experiences? What about the good choices we’ve made? Unfortunately, the good experiences don’t “weigh” us down, so they can be forgotten. The good and positive experiences are better represented by grains of sand. A grain of sand compared to a palm sized stone is almost incomparable.

Sifting sand. When I was in Ecuador in November 2022, I spent some time sifting sand. We had to sift sand to make a pile of the finest sand to be used to mix into the cement. We used the cement for foundation and to lay brick. Hours spent using a wooden frame and screen to shake back and forth for hours makes a person sore and tired. Shovels full of dirty sand mixed with rocks and debris are poured onto the sifting screen. Then, two people hold the screen and begin to shake it back and forth. What doesn’t make it through the screen gets tossed back out onto the ground away from the good, finely sifted sand.

These girls sifted sand for hours. Hard workers.

 Those fine grains of sand, as stated previously, are the good choices we’ve made in life. They are the positive actions we’ve performed. The honorable decisions we’ve made. Again, those larger stones that don’t make it through the screen are the shame, guilt, and poor decisions we’ve made. We have to sift those out of our lives. How? Work. You can take the sifting screen and shake it back and forth on your own. I actually did some sifting on my own by laying the screen on top of a wheelbarrow, shoveling loads of dirty sand into it and shaking the screen on my own into the wheelbarrow. It’s much easier to have someone help sift those finer grains of sand, the good and positive decisions, and actions we’ve made, into a pile. That pile of clean sand, the positive, will get mixed and be used to form a foundation and to build, upwards, a structure that will stand for years to come.

We will make poor decisions. That’s normal and that’s how we learn and gain wisdom. We cannot keep those larger stones. We have to work to sift them out of our lives. Sometimes with some help. If we do not sift them out, a weak foundation will be constructed. Or, if we’re not even at a point to build and are still walking our path, those stones begin to weigh us down as we choose to carry them with us and not discard them. Take time for yourself to stop, take a knee and do some sifting. You may have to do it daily, weekly, monthly, etc. The goal is to only have to do it occasionally, maybe yearly or more. Learn to sift on your own and appreciate when you have help. The goal is to not carry the negative. Do more positive for ourselves and others in our lives. So much that the positive outweighs the negative. We will have some stones but what we aim for is to have more sand.

Everyday we start out with a blank page in our book of life. We open our eyes, rotate our body, place our feet on the floor and begin our day. Our choices begin the moment we place our feet on the floor to stand. Nothing before us has been written because it has not happened. We own our paths and we make our choices. If you have to walk slowly, walk slowly. Consider the outcome of your actions. Slow your roll if need be. Begin your day with a routine or habits that will help set you up for success in the day ahead. Journal, pray, read, exercise or whatever you decide what works best for you. Just make sure it is positive and spiritually lifting. I choose to journal, pray, read in one of my books and/or read my bible. Set the course for your day in the morning. That’ll help you to avoid placing those stones in your ruck sack. Before you know it, you’ll be walking on finely sifted sand.

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