Grace is uncommonly quiet.
But that doesn’t mean she isn’t busy.
I go in search of her and find her in the bathroom.
She’s washing stones.
With her toothbrush and my toothpaste.
Water ripples green and blue and rose and yellow and orange from polished pebbles with names like carnelian and amethyst and quartz and lace agate.
Along with a Petoskey stone and an arrowhead.
She never has enough stones. When we go to Gaylord, she always wants to go to the Call of the Wild, mostly to sift through the bins and choose favorites to fill a velvety bag.
She scoops them from the basin and lays them carefully in a towel, blots them dry. She counts them. We roll the cool and smooth in our hands, run a thumb along flat cradled in palm.
We wonder how many weeks each had to be tumbled in the dark with grit to produce its brilliance.
I bought her a tumbler for Christmas, and we talk about how much fun it will be to hunt for stones around the house this summer. To see what beauty we can uncover from common rock.
She dumps them all back in their shoebox. I survey the floor for strays. I’ve stepped on them before with bare feet.
Later I dump them back out, sit cross-legged on the floor, and play with them.
In chapter 4 of Stone Crossings, L.L. tells a story about Salvador Dali and how he painstakingly created a stone sky painting by gluing tiny rocks to canvas.
His parents supported his creative efforts and hung his stone sky painting in the dining room. Every once in a while, a pebble would dive to the floor with a tap. Salvador’s father assured people, “It’s nothing; it’s just another stone that has dropped from our child’s sky.” ~p. 33
And although Salvador went on to bigger things, I think about the hopelessness of gluing our hope to man-made canvas.
But even if we’ve pinned our hope on the One who made the stones, it seems like we still find ourselves tossed in tumblers.
Sometimes it’s a result of our choices to follow stony paths, like the prodigal son. Or Israel broken by Assyria.
What looks to us like God smashing rocks off our painting is actually the natural outcome of our chosen medium. If we paint with stones, gravity will pull them into our path–sometimes violently so. ~page 38
Sometimes we suffer as part of His plan to polish and smooth, to expose hidden beauty. We tumble, it seems, alone and forgotten.
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. James 1:2-3 (Message)
I gather the stones and place them back in the box.
Sometimes grace is uncommonly quiet.
But that doesn’t mean it isn’t busy.