Have you ever sat and contemplated a rock? Last weekend I spent a full hour on the side of a river contemplating one rock in particular.
I know you must be saying “that girl has too much free time on her hands.” Generally, I am pretty busy but these last few weeks I have found myself with a bit of down time. For me, like most of you I assume, “down time” means I have a long list of things on my To Do list but all of them are easily put off for the time being. Like really, do I have to clean the pantry today? One more day of putting off paper work isn’t going to kill me. Usually I have a ton of things that have immediate deadlines. But not right now. Now I have some space to be still.
That leads me back to my rock. I have always loved rocks. I collect them when we go on vacations. I put them in my garden as a way of surrounding myself with the places I have been.
In my early 20s, I went on a trip to Europe after a particularly difficult time in my life. I found myself on a beach in Nice, France holding a rock. I would later call it my grounding stone. It fit perfectly in my palm and was weighted enough to help me feel pulled, only slightly, toward the Earth. Its edges were smooth and eventually the colour turned dark grey from the oils in my hand. I held it in my hand during difficult emotional times as a reminder that I was going to be OK. Eventually, I found myself holding it less and less. I gave that rock away years later to a teen I was working with whom at the time I suspected needed it more than me. She probably did. Truth be told I regret giving it up. I should have helped her find her own grounding stone rather than giving away mine. That is a lesson that everyone in the helping profession learns the hard way eventually. I’ve never found another rock quite the same.
On the side of the river last weekend I was finally able to grasp my connection to stones. They are solid, ancient and yet still ever changing. Water can smooth their edges over time. I found myself thinking about the animals that stepped on the rock on the way to the river. I thought about how the water has moved the rock down from the mountain in which it was likely formed from bigger hunks of rock. I thought of how the rock came from the earth and found myself in awe of how this rock was a result of a long chain of events going back to the beginning of time. Generations of people could have passed this rock and yet I may have been the first person to ever slow down enough to notice its significance. Then again maybe not.
I had a colleague tell me that when he is in nature he feels like nature is speaking to him. He describes it in a very real and personal way. I think I get now what he was trying to say. The rock was speaking to me. It was telling me that it is okay to be still.