I have an affinity for stones. Not gem stones, although they are quite lovely, but rather stones that remind me of the rock of the Earth from which they came. I like that rocks and stones were on Earth long before God created human beings. Stones, fragments of rocks, remind me of creation and the God who formed the Earth and thought it was good. As Susan Palo Cherwien writes in Crossings: Meditations for Worship, “Rocks are the elders on earth…In the rock is the memory of all that has transpired in the universe’s forming” (p. 5).
I appreciate that in the Hebrew Scriptures it is noted that Samuel took a stone and placed it on the ground to indicate that “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” It was their Ebenezer, “stone of help.” The stone pillar that Jacob set up was the witness to the agreement made between Jacob and Laban. I relate to the psalmist who declares that God is my rock and my refuge. I consider stones to be visual reminders of God’s rock solid presence. Stones mark the place where God has helped me.
I remember reading the book Jewel by Bret Lott years ago. The one line out of the whole book that I can’t seem to shake is when Jewel’s mother refers to the stories of who Jewel was and where she came from as “stones in your pocket.” How often I have thought of the stones in my own pocket. These are stones that, when I stick my hand down in my pocket, I can’t help but bump against them, relishing their rattle and how they slip through my fingers. I often pick out one stone and roll it around in the palm of my hand, considering all sides, seeing how I helped shape the stone and the stone shaped me. These stones are the stories that define me, stories that make me who I am today. I believe that our own stories are integral to helping us discover who God created us to be and how God works in, through and with us.
We all have stories to tell. In my ministry I am able to witness how essential it is for each of us to know our story and tell our story. And listening to one another’s stories helps us take notice of the filament of grace that links us together as God’s beloved creations. Often, it is only when we pull out one stone at a time and examine it faithfully that we see the intricacy in it. We can take the time to marvel at the fine lines of grace that encompass it, remember the making of the smooth edges and acknowledge the pain of the sharp points.
We all carry stones in our pockets. As we take each one out and consider it, we might just find that the stone has a story to tell. One that is as old as the hills and as new as God’s mercies each morning.