“I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.” Luke 19:40, the words of Jesus.
Two weeks ago the shore of Lake Michigan between Saint Joseph and South Haven was covered with rocks. We stayed in a cabin my brother and his partner have owned for less than a year, and already they’re getting a sense of how these waters work. The beach changes frequently, Luke noted. One week it may be loaded with sand, the next week half the sand washes away. Not long before our arrival the waves unloaded a knee deep crop of stones on top of the beach. They were rounded and smooth, most of them ranging in size between my hand and Ila’s. During our weeklong stay, the stones were already being reclaimed by the lake. But there were still plenty, and we spent hours walking up and down the beach looking at and collecting colorful rocks.
The Great Lakes are young, geologically speaking, merely thousands of years old, remnants of the last great glacier. They’re the puddle left over after the ice cube melted. But they’re old enough to make jagged rocks smooth. The heavy speckled ones, the ones you can’t scratch with a knife, are granite. None of the bedrock around the cabin is granite. It is another gift of the glacier, brought down from the north, broken off of the Canadian Shield, which geologists consider to be the geological core of North America. Everything underneath us is clinging to the remains of that ancient volcanic rock, its fire now cooled and hardened. And I’m holding a little round chunk of it in my hand.
“I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.”
I know this wasn’t the point of Jesus’ words at that time, but on vacation I enjoyed being silent, and I needed what the stones were shouting. I’m comforted by the vastness of time. It helps me place my life in perspective. It makes me grateful to realize that this inheritance of the present moment took billions of years of form, that it is the gift of ice and fire. It increases my wonder and awe, which I consider to be at the heart of human spirituality.
We brought a few buckets of flat rocks home, most of which will likely end up in some future tiling project. I also selected seven rocks to keep in a stack on my desk at church. Time happens around here in cycles of seven. Often I feel caught up in its sweep, the bigger picture obscured. I hope to keep listening to what the stones are saying.