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Being (Small): A Teaching From the Rocks - By Jessi Kramer

Posted by lindsaybarden | May 16, 2016

Tiny stones. I stopped, gazed down at them curiously. 
 
We’ve all been there.
Walking along that life path--
Then all of a sudden, the lie settles down and makes itself comfortable in our minds and we think,
Why am I so small?
 
It can take different forms:
I am not enough.
I don’t have what it takes.
I can never measure up.
 
These thoughts jarred my peaceful evening stroll. I was overwhelmed and confused by my “littleness”, staring downward, dully, at my feet, too self-absorbed to lift my eyes upward and around, too burdened to cultivate awareness and childlike wonder.
 
Then--
Tiny stones on the road.
Just bits of gravel, really.
Probably thousands of them.
Thousands of macroscopic manifestations of tiny mineral components.
 
How is it that everything big owes it all to things that are small?
Without the small, there would be no big.
 
We don’t like the small. At least, we’re taught not to like it. Sure, small spring flowers, small songbirds, even small microbes in the soil--some people, increasingly fewer people, enjoy those. But “small” houses, “small” salaries, “small” goals and ambition, “small” careers, “small” talents or a “small” social life--those are frowned upon. We are afraid to admit--discouraged from admitting--that we just want to do well with that which is simple, that which is “small”. That we want more “be-ing” and less “do-ing”--or at least less of the do-ing that doesn’t flow true from the be-ing. But the world shouts at us, and we cower.
 
So we strive. And if we don’t, we feel like something may be wrong with us. We strive for more. To be “enough”. To do “enough”. To have “enough”--and “enough” has very flexible, mostly expanding contours.*  Enough, though it implies a boundary, rarely has a stopping point in our world.
 
And by believing the lie, our relationships with God…others…ourselves…the natural world...are distorted, tainted.
 
The rocks want to teach us something. God hides lessons everywhere in His created world. His lessons are as grand and as subtle as His seemingly paradoxical nature, as countless as He is limitless.
 
I have not mentioned yet why I stopped upon glimpsing the little bits of gravel.
It was not because there were thousands of them. And to my unaided eye, they weren’t very pretty either--not sparkly, no obvious patterns or interesting colors.
 
It was because of their shadows.
 
These stones had shadows much larger than themselves, incredible shadows, jutting out from beneath them onto that winding country road among the pines.
 
The rocks were very insignificant in and of themselves--tiny, easy to miss, a bit boring to be honest. And yet, by simply being in the light of the setting sun, not by struggling or striving or grasping for a “bigger” identity, they made a most striking image. They were striking enough that I--a person who struggles to cultivate wonder at an age when apathy easily creeps in and pure childlike imagination is mostly lost--paused, knowing something was there that I was not supposed to miss.
 
If the stones were not exactly as they were, in the puzzling glory of their smallness, I may not have stopped. It was partly because they were so small that I was so impressed. How could such a tiny, seemingly insignificant, seemingly purposeless thing play a role in creating such beauty? If those stones, easily glanced-over by many eyes, had not been there, I wouldn’t have stopped at that particular place on that old country road. My life would be different. It would lack something. No stones, no striking shadows.
 
Without the small, there would be no big.
 
The rocks cry out--can you hear them?
 
The little rocks simply were. They were be-ing.
And the sun was.
And you, being, are. And He is.
 
 
 
 *Powers, W. (2010). Twelve by twelve: A one-room cabin off the grid & beyond the American dream. Novato, CA: New World Library.
 
 
 
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