The world does not need words. It articulates itself in sunlight, leaves, and shadows. The stones on the path are no less real for lying uncatalogued and uncounted. The fluent leaves speak only the dialect of pure being.
The sunlight needs no praise piercing the rainclouds, painting the rocks and leaves with light, then dissolving each lucent droplet back into the clouds that engendered it. The daylight needs no praise, and so we praise it always– greater than ourselves and all the airy words we summon. ~Dana Giola from “Words”
Yet he shall be forsaken, And yielded up to die; The sky shall groan and darken, And every stone shall cry. And every stone shall cry For stony hearts of men: God’s blood upon the spearhead, God’s love refused again.
But now, as at the ending, The low is lifted high; The stars shall bend their voices, And every stone shall cry. And every stone shall cry, In praises of the child, By whose descent among us, The worlds are reconciled. ~Richard Wilbur from “A Christmas Hymn”
Reading the news from around the world, I could be convinced we’re all mute and dull as rocks, inconsequential and immobile, trod upon and paved over, forgettable and forgotten. I could believe there exists no pulse in our stony hearts. I could believe we are incapable of love as we turn away from a God descending to lie with us on the ground where we lay.
Yet even the low are lifted high by His descent– every stone, yes even the dumb and lifeless, shall cry out in community with Him, even the silent will find a voice to praise. Even my own voice, meager and anemic, shall be heard.
No longer forgotten. In fact, we never were.
So hard to reconcile but if the stones have known it all along, so should we.
Teach us to care and not to care Teach us to sit still Even among these rocks, Our peace in His will And even among these rocks…
…And let my cry come unto Thee. ~T.S. Eliot from the conclusion of “Ash Wednesday”
Too many daily distractions prevent me from being still and seeking peace in my earthly life. I constantly want to build up, to tear down, to keep moving, I care too much, I care too little — anything to avoid being like an inanimate rock. There is always the awareness that everlasting stillness will come soon enough, much too soon, in the grave, in the forever of my becoming dust.
Yet even among the rocks they fail to stay rooted in place; they are washed away with the waves, moved at the mercy of the tide, landing somewhere new and unfamiliar only to be stilled, then shifted once again.
Let my peace be among the rocks, to be picked up and moved where He wills, to settle where I am placed until the time comes to move again. Let my peace be in the knowledge He has control, not I.
And so I cry out.
Even among the rocks
Even among the rocks
…speaking of stones, what about
The little ones you can
Hold in your hands, their heartbeats
So secret, so hidden it may take years
Before, finally, you hear them? Mary Oliver
In the laundry room, I often find pebbles in my pockets. I’d like to think they just jumped in on their own, eager to journey with me, but that isn’t the case. Instead, they were hijacked. I tend to watch the ground as I walk, partly out of concern that I don’t misstep but also because I’m a bit of a hunter-gatherer. As stones on the ground are unlikely to be missed by anyone, there are always a few that make their way home with me. This isn’t exactly stealing; it feels more like I am offering them a foster home for a little while, just a blip on the timeline of their long lives.
Beaches are my greatest gathering challenge as there are so many imperfect stones waiting for a pocket ride into my life. They need to be a little odd to catch my eye in the midst of millions. They need to be easily palmed and hugged by my hand and they need to have an interesting feel to my fingertips. I’ve discovered they have a hidden, secret heartbeat that I can feel right up my fingers into my own heart.
These are not pet rocks, worry stones or precious metal to me, only plain ordinary mundane pebbles with the pulse of the ages. I’m reminded how old they are in comparison with relatively young me. Each is a solid unique individual, hanging out with me for the time being but eventually will make their way back to a garden display, an outside gravel path, a seashore or pond edge.
In the meantime, they have stories to tell and I’m listening. So secret, so hidden, so ancient and now I can hear.