My eyes shift from the thunderclouds and lightning to the ground where we have outlined flowerbeds with rocks.
I just need to be a rock. They get rained on, snowed on, peed on by dogs, and yet they stand tall and stay in place.
Sometimes the world spins backwards and too fast for me, and I find myself wanting to run from noise and the unpredictability of the world.
That can mean wanting space from the world, too.
Oh, to become like a rock. A painted rock, a granite rock, a small pebble or a huge boulder. They can come from the river, the mountain, the valley, a dirt road. It doesn’t matter.
Rocks are solid and pitted, helpful and willing to be used, even for small jobs. Beautiful, no matter how rough or how smooth, no matter if they are gray, brown, red, black, or white.
Much can be learned from rocks.
I look at a pot I keep on the porch. Full of small, interesting rocks of various shapes and sizes.
I’m not the only rock hound I know. I don’t know what drives others to finger, rub, collect rocks, but for me, I like the look and feel of rocks. It feels like my childhood.
We children often played with rocks and sticks. Did you? I created tiny houses with them. My brother looked for arrowheads. I don’t remember painting rocks as a child.
Only as an adult, have I learned to value people who are dependable like rocks, people who keep boundaries and promises, who can be tough and good at the same time, who are courageous.
I knew a woman who was rock-like when I was a senior in high school. We girls in the teenage cottage of the orphanage called her Mom Jeffers. She was in her sixties. Well-educated—a woman who loved the arts and books.
Solid. What she said was what she meant. Still, she cared deeply, but she would not to be manipulated by any moody girl under her care.
You either liked Mom Jeffers a great deal or not at all. Me, I adored her.
She taught me to scribble in notebooks, love watercolor, read widely, step out and try new things, even if they fell apart. She taught me to clean up the mess I’d made, whether it was a recipe or a relationship.
How can I not appreciate that encouragement? When I was in her presence, I felt no rebellion.
A rock. She was a rock.
She absolutely ruined me, too. I assumed all women in their sixties would be as wonderful as she. I certainly expected wonderfulness and good listening from dorm mothers and teachers in college. Oh, what disappointment….
I was a sophomore the year President Kennedy was shot. The entire campus went silent. No counseling. No listening. No talking. No groups. I couldn’t even find someone in the chapel to talk with.
Now, I know everyone was in shock and couldn’t be there for me. Everyone, grief-stricken.
Nevertheless, my memory of being alone and thinking the world was coming apart at the seams remains a memory that’s still easy to access.
I needed a rock.
Then, I kept looking for a wise woman. Today, I know to get on my knees. God is the Rock I will always need.
It’s a rocky road until we learn what we need to know.
Lesson 1: God is available.
Lesson 2: Not all women are tuned in to the pulse of expression, not all women have ears to hear, not all women reach out and encourage us to reach in.
Mom Jeffers could talk poetry, chime in to adolescent conversations, and tell a wonderful story. She was a rare gift, and she opened my inner world. I am forever grateful to this woman.
No wonder I became a teacher, then a mental health counselor, and finally a poet. No wonder I love rocks and the song, “Rock of Ages.” No wonder.
May we learn that God is the Rock we can count on.
P.S. Thank you, kindest readers. Your comment is welcome below.
Photo of a pot of rocks taken by Pat, a rock hound, in Norfork, Arkansas, on May 3, 2019.