Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth
find reserves of strength that will endure for as long as life lasts.
-Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder
Welcome to the Reflection for June!
There is a stretch of highway here in New Brunswick, where the rock face climbs up both sides of the road and you see the layers of earth that make up the stone. To drive through this portion of the highway feels, to me, like going through a passageway in Mother Earth. One day a few years ago, as I drove through this passageway, I heard the phrase ‘The Story of Stone’ rise up from my heart. It felt like an invitation to begin writing about one of my favourite aspects of nature….rocks, stones, pebbles. I have been slowly gathering together bits and pieces of the ways that stone has been a sacred companion to many. In these first few weeks of summer, I feel called to share a story of stone in our reflection.
But first, a few simple notes about some of the ways stone has supported us throughout the years.
For millennia, people have had a rich relationship with the element of stone. Stones and rocks have helped capture and hold the stories of people across the ages. The stone walls of caves have been the backdrop for painting, writing and sharing stories that knit together the lives and history of a culture.
In the past few years, painted rocks and stones have been placed in parks, campgrounds and neighbourhoods as a means of encouraging one another as we live through this pandemic. People have painted words, or pictures on these stones to leave as a surprise to uplift and care for complete strangers.
In the Celtic tradition, people often prayed with stones. A pile of stones would be left beside holy wells. Visitors could pick up a stone whose texture mirrored the way they felt inside. The stone might be soft and smooth to the touch, or rough, sharp and textured if the person was going through a hard time. Holding the stone in their hands, feeling its weight and texture would help them sink into their heart and form words of prayer that would be imbued into the rock. The rock may then be left at the base of a holy well as an offering.
These are just some of the ways that the natural element of earth and stone have supported our spiritual lives through the years.
In our Spirit Garden Reflection this month, I share a story about something that I call Heart Stones, I hope it might inspire you to invite the element of stone to support your meditations this summer.
Write your worries in sand, carve your blessings in stone.
-Robert F. Kennedy
The audio file below offers a reflection on spending time in nature and being inspired by stones. The reflection is followed by a handout with some questions that are intended to help you journal your own thoughts and experiences with stones and in nature. Please print these out before you listen to the audio file.
You are invited to create a comfortable space for yourself, perhaps light a candle and wrap a shawl around you as you take about 20 minutes to listen to the reflection and then answer the questions. May this be a nourishing and replenishing time of some soul tending.
Please click on the button below to download the reflection questions that go along with this month’s reflection on Heart Stones.
Close your Reflection with a Poem
The link below offers a video in which the poem, Stone by Charles Simic, is read. This poem fits beautifully with our theme and I hope you enjoy listening to it as you bring your reflection time to a close.
Spirit Garden Moments
Spirit Garden Moments offer a short pause in your day and an opportunity for reflection. Below is a Spirit Garden Moment about how finding our paths to what nourishes us.
This past weekend my husband and I were at a nursery looking for some new perennials to plant in front of the cedar trees at the side of our house. Over the winter, the deer have eaten halfway up all three cedar trees. We wanted some kind of bush that we could plant in front of the cedars so that they don’t look so bare.
As we talked to a woman who worked at the nursery, we mentioned that the cedars are over 20 years old and the deer have never eaten them before. However, in the past two years, they have chewed away most of the lower branches. I love what she said next. She mentioned that someone changed the deer’s path and that is why they are now eating in our yard. She said that deer will often take the same path for their food sources, but if someone else put up a fence, or took out a food supply, it changes their path and they will find a new one.
I have been pondering this over the past few days. It made me think of how humans and animals are not so different from each other. A few weeks ago, I was reading an article about urban planning that described how neighbourhoods and parks get laid out. The planners observe what is called the desire path that people tend to walk most frequently. This is the path that most people in an area seem to gravitate towards to get from point A to point B. The desire path is the one that most people choose to walk and it is what gets made into a part of walking trails in a park or neighbourhood. By observing the natural inclinations of human behaviour, the desire path is revealed and the neighbourhood is planned accordingly.
Up until the pandemic struck us, we all had ‘desire paths’ in our lives. The well-worn routes to our work, to our recreation and to our social life. Covid has disrupted those desire paths. Like the deer, many of us have had to find new paths that take us to what we need.
In some ways, I appreciate this. I have found some new desire paths to travel that are taking me in new directions. I am sure that each of you has too. For many of us, our well-worn paths have been changed and we are now forging new ones.
These new desire paths may not have been what we would have chosen before Covid, but I hope that we are each finding nourishment on these new paths. We may not only find nourishment, but may we also become a source of nourishment upon the paths of others who are now moving in our direction. Just like our cedar trees have become a source of food for the deer.
May the path that you find yourself on these days, lead you to more life, to new experiences, to new friendships, possibilities and adventures. May our new desire paths also lead us to live with more balance and consideration for our earth.
Blessings upon your path,
As we live into these summer months, may you find the paths that lead you to inspiration and nourishment for your heart and soul. May the generosity of nature ignite your heart with prayer and connect you with wisdom and creativity.
Connect & Share
Please share any comments about this Reflection in the comments below. Make sure to check out what others are posting and encourage each other!