Published on October 05, 2018


Plumb Line and Pendulum

A bricklayer or a stonemason will use a weight hanging from a string as a “plumb line” to help make the walls as straight as possible. The plumb line is governed by gravity, and it hangs straight down—strictly vertical.

In 1851, Jean Bernard Leon Foucault had the idea that a pendulum—essentially a plumb line on a massive scale—could be used to demonstrate the rotation of the earth. He showed that by suspending a very heavy weight on a cable that was fixed far enough away from the earth (about 75 yards), the weight would remain still while the earth rotated below it.

That is why the Foucault Pendulums we see in museums seem to be moving when in reality they are staying quite still: it is we who are riding along with the surface of the earth who are moving.

The gentle swing of the pendulum translates the earth’s movement into a precisely regular pattern of movement in a way that we can actually see it. And it works because the pendulum is absolutely fixed.

In the biblical book of Amos, God describes Himself as a plumb line and says, “Look what I’ve done. I’ve hung a plumb line in the midst of my people” (Amos 7:8). The plumb line He was referring to was Amos himself. God wanted Amos to be His agent—His representative, who would be seen as that which doesn’t change in a world that is constantly in motion. And the steady, unswerving, stable force that doesn’t change when the world does is God’s love.

By accepting the mission of Adventist HealthCare, we each become plumb lines. Our vertical is our mission: “We extend God’s care through the ministry of physical, mental and spiritual healing.”

The collective weight that gives impact to our mission are our values: Respect: We recognize the infinite worth of each individual; Integrity: We are conscientious and trustworthy in everything we do; Service: We care for our patients, their families and each other with compassion; Excellence: We do our best every day to exceed expectations; Stewardship: We take ownership to efficiently and effectively extend God’s care.

Perhaps our values are best understood as a unit—a single pendulum that is the unswerving, stable force at the heart of our organization. We can break them down into individual elements, but taken together they are just one thing: the loving expression of God’s care.

It can be hard to be a plumb line, even more difficult to be a massive pendulum. It’s not easy to be a steady force for love in a world that is in constant motion. But that’s our calling. That’s our mission.  As the world turns, that’s what we do.

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