Stack Pole

The photo attached to this post is from my favorite chaplaining discussion from yesterday. The doodle on the right side of the image is my attempt at describing a stack pole. A “stack pole” is an ancient agricultural concept that I learned while studying theology. Within theology is was meant to convey the central idea that gives shape and structure to all of your other theology. In the image attach to this post the stack pole is the dark line that is draw in the center of what is supposed to be a haystack. (Don’t judge my haystack – this was a conversational doodle, not an attempt at art).

A Romanian haystack

I am not a farmer, nor the son of a farmer (though I did have a step-grandfather that was a hobby gardener and really liked to use all his step-grandkids as free labor on his hobby garden – but we didn’t deal with hay so I didn’t learn this from him, however I have dug more potatoes and picked more green beans and tomatoes than I care to remember), but I learned about stack poles because of the theological discussion.

A stack pole is the pole in the center of a haystack that gives the stack structure for stability, shape, and aeration. The stack pole makes the haystack sound and reliable. Without a stack pole the haystack has to have some other form of structure or it will fall down on itself, become unmanageable, or even worse, combust from the heat that accompanies a lack of aeration.

So often in discussion I describe a “stack pole” to people in an attempt to help them figure out what is the person/concept/thing that lends structure to everything else in their life. What is the ultimate “yes” in my life that determines whether I say “yes” or “no” to everything else? This stack pole gives and shapes meaning to everything else. For me this stack pole is Jesus.

For far too many people I believe there is no “stack pole” in their lives, or, maybe even worse, what they have as their ultimate “yes” is nowhere near strong enough to be the center pole of their lives and thus can’t handle the weight such need for meaning brings – this can lead to chaos. In a post in September I mentioned Søren Kierkegaard’s famous quote, “purity of heart is to will one thing,” which is another way of expressing, and probably a better way because it is from Kierkegaard after all, what I mean by “stack pole”. I hope you have a stack pole that gives structure to your life. If not, or if you are realizing that what has been your “stack pole” isn’t up to snuff, then I know a great God that is the perfect “stack pole”.

Any how this post was really about two things:

  • first, I love what I get to do in life
  • two, I love when a conversation leads to a doodle.

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