Sunday, December 18, 2011

The stone

I've written about the importance of stones in my life before.  I have a bowl of special ones in a place of honor in our home I sometimes choose to hold when I pray, and I have a treasure box where I keep stones I've found or my children have found and lovingly given me.  It's a part of the Jewish tradition I was seemingly born knowing about and embracing. 

I read this poem by Barbara Crooker in a lovely book of comfort prayers my friend Lee gifted me the week I came home from surgery.  It was as if it had been written for my family and I.  Like most poetry I read it many times before I could understand it.  Different things would soak in as I turned the words over and over in my head and heart much like you get to know a rock or a pebble if you hold it long enough. 

Tonight as I talked to Dan and the girls on the phone my heart swelled not with sadness but with the most powerful gratefulness that through God's grace we have carried our stone and polished it through tears and pain and grief into something shining and so beautiful you can scarcely look at it.  I hung up and opened the book back up to the marked page.


The stone
was heavy.
The family carried it
with them
all day.
Not one could bear
its weight, alone.
Yet how they loved it.
No other stone had
its denseness,
its particular way
of bending the light.

They could not take
the stone
out in public,
had to keep it at home,
let it sing songs
in its own strange language,
syllables of schist and shale.
When the mother's back ached,
the father took the stone
for awhile, then passed it
from sister to sister.
The stone became
a part of them,
a bit of granite
in the spine,
a shard of calcite
in the heart.
its weight
pressed them thin,
as wildflowers
left in the dictionary.

it was
than air.
The stone
did not talk
But it shone.

2007 was the year Danica was born and our journey of living with way more than we ever needed turned into waking in the morning and looking for manna.  It was the year I spent months in the hospital and sent my Laney away to Ohio and our miracle baby came to the world and then the NICU.  It was the year we lost our credit and the ledger sheets turned upside down into zero.  We had no money for gifts at all yet somehow Dan scraped together the money to buy me a beautiful inexpensive necklace from a little shop I loved in downtown Rockville, MD.  It had a simple gold leaf pattern covering a silver rectangle with a quote engraved in the metal. It read,

"The most beautiful stones have been washed by the waters and polished to brilliance by life's strongest storms." 

I have since parted with the gift.  I gave it to someone I love who was going through a strong storm in her own life.  It meant so much to me that gifting it seemed like the only way to really show her how much I cared and understood and so I painfully passed it on.  But the sentiment stays with me and reminds me how Dan and I believed we were coming out of the storm that day he gave it to me, and we thought we had carried the heaviest things God could possibly ask us to.  Little did we know He would give us so much more bear for so much longer.

I see now more clearly than ever how being polished and changed into something that shines for the glory of God is a gift beyond measure.  I hope and pray a long awaited time of calm and restoration is coming soon, but my heart is ready for whatever He deems best. 

While we watch and wait to see what God will do next our family will continue to collect stones as reminders of God's faithfulness.  He is our Ebenezer. 

"Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, "Thus far the Lord has helped us." I Samuel 7:12

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