Keystone vs Cornerstone

The stone which the builders rejected has become the keystone. Matthew 21:45

Here’s a familiar line to most of us with the final word also translated as cornerstone. I’ve heard cornerstone used more frequently than keystone, so being the word geek I am, I looked up the difference.

A keystone is the final stone or piece put into an arch to hold the whole together. It’s placed in the top central position.

A cornerstone is, as it sounds, the corner foundation stone for a structure.

Which then posits an interesting philosophical string of thoughts: Are the spiritual beliefs that guide me a foundation to my life; or are they the over-arching piece that holds it all my other pieces together?

I don’t think one can say that either are “better” or even more functional. Depending on the type of building being built, both are necessary. If you have a square solid structure, you need a cornerstone but not a keystone. But say, you have an arching doorway inside as we do over both our dining room opening and over the living room (over my bathtub, too, for that matter, but we have a 1920’s house) then you will need both in different places. Extend that, and in a building with a rotunda you have a real need for a keystone or the whole place crumbles, but you also need a cornerstone at the walls for stability.

But the above line uses the word as a metaphor for something else. Perhaps a metaphor for how we use the rejected parts of ourselves. For example, let’s take anger: if anger is a cornerstone it’s pretty solid in our lives; but if we elevate anger to the keystone position, perhaps it becomes loftier, more understood as an energy for change, a way to shape our lives.

If judgment is a cornerstone, we might use negative judgments against others as a way to stabilize our worth; but judgment as a keystone might become making clear choices because we can see more clearly.

Perhaps cornerstones can stabilize so much we’re stuck and keystones can lift our perspectives higher.

Perhaps cornerstones are like my hip joints which seem to be always aching, and the keystone is my mind to remind me that aches don’t have to run my life.

I’d be interested in your take on keystones and cornerstones and how you think they may operate in your life.




One thought on “Keystone vs Cornerstone

  1. susansayings says:

    Interesting. I’m thinking the keystone is nothing special on it’s own. It derives its status from its position in the center of the arch. Perhaps that which we want to reject in ourselves and others becomes the keystone in elevating us. In our recognition of our weakness, we rise.
    Just something to ponder.

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