“I get to recall where the romance of rock collecting had lain: the symbolic sense that underneath the dreary highways, underneath Pittsburgh, were canyons of crystals—that you could find treasure by prying open the landscape.”
“Oh that my words were written! Oh, that they were inscribed in a book! That they were engraved on a rock with an iron pen and lead, forever!”
Rimming the perimeter of my antique roll-top is a string of stones serving more than a collector’s consumptive or decorative delight. Some smooth, some polished, some jagged, each stone evokes a time and place in my personal history or in the lives of those I love.
There’s the white one, satiny and opaque as an eggshell, which Mother carried back from Wisconsin, where she and Daddy had honeymooned over fifty years ago; the rock from Pike’s Peak with hand-painted evergreens and a lake-scene, courtesy of my beloved Grandma Nina from one of her summer vacations—she always brought back a gift for me; the glossy marble egg, one of six that I bought to give to author Becky Freeman and her “hens with pens” friends in Texas—Becky was God’s gift of encouragement at a low point in my writing career, when she and her Southern sisters took this northern chick under their warm, wonderful wings; yet most significant is a small, angular rock from a beach at ocean’s edge, presented as a remembrance by my teacher at a journaling seminar. Though ordinary in size, color, and contour, it fairly glows like a gem to me. Naturally etched on it like a pen-and-ink drawing is a tiny dove, symbolizing incredible, healing release God gave me through writing about an emotional wound that had festered for eighteen years. Now, when I look at the rock, my heart takes wing like the dove. I am free!
Despite its importance to me, my husband isn’t emotionally attached to my rock collection—or any collection. Michael hates clutter and reminds me of the author Thoreau’s wrestling in his classic, Walden: “I had three pieces of limestone on my desk, but I was terrified to find that they required to be dusted daily, when the furniture of my mind was all undusted still, and threw them out the window in disgust.”
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve cleared the clutter of collections but, unlike Thoreau, excused the rocks because God is a stone-saver. In Joshua 4, after God parted the Jordan River at flood-stage allowing the Israelites to cross safely on dry ground, He instructed Joshua to direct a man from each tribe to remove a stone from the riverbed and erect it in their camp ground. These monuments would remind them of God’s miraculous provision and reveal His faithfulness to their children, long after they had died.
Similarly to the Israelites, I have lifted “stones of remembrance” from life’s riverbed with my pen, collecting them in my journal. Each written prayer is a cut diamond—intricate, multi-faceted, durable—unlike verbal prayers which vanish like breath. As I read my journal, dusting my mind, holding life up this way and that to God’s light, its facets flash with His purpose and passion, prodding and purifying. I am suddenly aware that even in times of doubt, despair, confusion, and seeming abandonment, God’s presence has permeated my journey. Just as He promised, He has never left me. Each stone of remembrance is proof of His permanence and power in my life—each journal is a moving memorial to the living God and someday will become His legacy of love to my progeny.
Your Invitation . . .
There is a Chinese proverb which reads: “The palest ink is better than the most retentive memory.” The rocks on my desk are visually beautiful and aid in prompting my recollections—but only in bullet-points. The stones of remembrance in my journal about those same events—about which I have written love letters to God—are of variegated hues, heavy with rich sensory detail, emotion, and revelation. Because my memories are recorded, they are lasting and not subject to the whims of time, distance, and imperfect recall.
This week, rendezvous with the Lover of your soul for a pen-in-hand stroll down memory lane. Ask God to pry open wide the landscape of your mind to unearth “canyons of crystal treasures” inside. Permanently gather stones of remembrance about God’s faithfulness in your life by writing about them in your journal.
What were the seemingly insignificant rocks God tossed into your life’s pond which have rippled into incredible blessings or realizations touching others’ lives, as well as your own? What perturbing pebbles have lodged inside your shoes as you’ve walked life’s path? How has God helped you to remove them? To what stepping stones has God led you that have brought great spiritual growth when you followed them? What are the milestones of miracles in your life that reveal God’s supernatural provision or intervention? Has God removed any boulders across your path which barred your freedom, that were impossible for you alone to budge? Has He set you free as He did Lazarus? What are the shining gems, the precious stones of laughter and delight and good times with family and friends? Thank the Lord you collect each stone of remembrance in your journal, never to be lost or forgotten. Thank Him for being the solid rock upon which the foundation of your entire life is built.
© Lynn D. Morrissey. Permission to reprint any or all of this material is required