As a child, I loved to collect rocks. I can remember walking down the street with my father, picking up specimens to bring home. I would spend hours studying them and sorting them and placing them in the special box that I kept them in. They were my special treasures! Fast-forward twenty-something years. I admit, I haven’t thought much about rocks during the interim.
My two boys also love to collect rocks. There are some differences, however. When I was small, I chose rocks based on color or shape. As far as my boys are concerned, size is the primary consideration – the bigger, the better! My rule is that they have to be able to physically pick the rock up in order to add it to their collection. My rocks fit in a box. They have set up a rock “museum” in their tree house.
Children inherently see more than we as adults do. Children see magic and mystery where we only see the ordinary. When my children look at their rocks, they see all sorts of different shapes and images. Their rocks aren’t just rocks. They are faces and boats and cartoon characters. They even have one rock they claim is the spitting image of the United States. If I look really hard, I can actually see what their imagination so easily provides.
They are discriminating in the rocks that they choose as well. We recently went on vacation up at Lake Champlain in northern Vermont. The shore where we were staying was covered with rocks. I had told the boys that they could each bring home eight rocks – one for each day that they were there. My goodness, it was a difficult choice! They would pick their favorites each day, and then have to rotate out some so that they only had a total of eight. They picked the ones that appealed to them most, the ones that were unique and stood apart from the others.
I have to admit that their love of rocks has reawakened my own. As an art major in college, I was taught to truly look at objects in order to reproduce them in a drawing or painting. As a student of theology, I learned to appreciate the wonder of God in all of His creation. Combine these two ways of seeing, the physical and the spiritual, and “simple” rocks take on a whole new meaning. I found myself studying the rocks on the shores of Lake Champlain with a much greater appreciation than I might otherwise have had. I marveled at the way the waves kept hitting the rocks, slowly shaping and smoothing them. Such a simple process, really, but one I hadn’t paid much attention to before. God is always working on the earth’s creation. It is a constant work in progress. The rocks are so beautiful, each one unique with a story of its own. God cares enough about the rocks, simple inanimate objects, to put such care into their creation. How much more does He care about us, who are made in His own image! How much more beautiful are we in His sight! Honestly, I never thought rocks would have so much to teach me!
Perhaps sometime this week, you might want to take the time to simply sit with some rocks. If you can do this with a child and get his or her insights, it would be even better. Take the time to truly look and appreciate. Take the time to wonder at God’s creation and be thankful that we are a part of the beauty of His earth.