As I was packing up all of those things, that when you are moving seem to multiply exponentially, a friend was helping me sort and pack. We laughed and joked and passed the time and lightened the load by such conversation. As is often the case, we found items that I had forgotten and that, too, was a joy.
At some point, my friend brought a large rock to me. She asked, “What is the story behind this?” I looked at the pretty ordinary rock and smiled. Several years ago my son had gone on a trip with a friend. They went to the friend’s grandparents and enjoyed several days on the lake. My son, upon returning home, wanted to share his trip and sought a gift for me. There really were no stores around and so he found a good-sized river rock and brought it home.
Of course, gifts from our children are special in their own right. The thought that my son wanted to share his adventure with his mom was truly all the gift that I could ever desire. Yet as my dear son gave me this rock, he talked about his days: swimming, tubing, making breakfast sandwiches on those delicious Hawaiian rolls, seeing someplace new, traveling with another family. His excitement was contagious. The connection I felt with my son was palpable.
So the rock became a fixture on my bathroom floor. Every time I step over the rock, I am reminded of the day it was gifted to me. Every time I needed to move it out of the way of the door, a smile crept across my face. Every time I looked at the rock, my heart was strangely filled with the love that connects us one to the other.
When my friend heard the story, she replied, “Yes, this is a keeper.” Indeed, the rock is a keeper.
In our lives, most of us have such relics so momentous that ties us to a particular time or place. Most of us have momentos that harken back and ground us in the ties that bind us to one another. This is also true, I believe, of our faith. In our spiritual lives, we have such rocks that anchor us, that ground us, that harken us back to the core of our faith. Those rocks may be a verse of scripture, the words of a hymn, a sunrise or a sunset when we knew in the core of our being that God was near. I often imagine young Isaac walking on that path with his father Abraham and, being like many young children, carrying a pebble or a rock and rolling it in his hands as they traversed the land. Those rocks, as Barbara Brown Taylor so aptly named her book, are altars in the world. They are places where, even for an instant, the Divine reaches down to touch humanity: where the Divine touches you and me.
What are the rocks that ground you? Where are the places that you build with stones to mark where you have met the Divine? What are those markers that lead you to seek an ever-deepening relationship with our gracious and loving God?
The Rev. Sarah Nelson