A Stone Among the Lilies

A Reflection on Time and Nature

On a recent trip to Lake Michigan, I was digging on the beach with my young son, when I came upon a smooth rust-colored rock showing faint sedimentary rings. I took it home and set it on my desk. During a slow stretch one day, I held this stone in my cupped palm and was struck by just how very, very old rocks are.

I wonder how many seasons it took for the lake to wear my memento down to its present size—how many spring blossoms opened, browned, and fell. To put a number to it seems insulting. The flickering beauties of the quick seasons are a mere breath to the oldest rocks that lie unflinching, watching leaves come and go. To hold this stone is to hear what creation has to say about eternity.

Of the seasons, spring is the essence of youth and newness. The vitality in the air is contagious with possibility. Warmth and sun and summer stretch out to every blue horizon. It is hard to evade this reverie, and who would want to? But, the reverie eventually escapes us.

Spring, in the air and in the heart, is intimately tied to winter. We, like the flowers of the field, wither and fall from time to time. Maybe momentary trials, like a deep freeze of the soul, stretch on well past the expected spring thaw. Time seems cruel: The flower fades, the trees go bare, and warmth gives way to bleak midwinter. Indeed, if all we have is the moment, then it is cruel. The moment is insufficient. Even in the midst of newness, we must step back and consider oldness, the stones among the lilies, stretching beyond the moment in both directions. Yes, God clothes the grass of the field. But God Himself is a rock.

Can the Rock who tends to the lilies of the field, even by way of their own moldering blossoms, not also work all things together for our good in such a way?

Rocks echo our eternal God throughout the created world. They are the mountains that loom over our plains. They are the bedrock that holds life-giving soil in place, supporting the array of creatures that pass across the surface. In my native Kentucky, they are the caves and caverns that open a subterranean darkness into wide and jagged wonder. These rocks say, Wait. Life may seem easy and abundant, but just wait. Life may seem barren and cold, but wait.

Spring may fade, yet nature teaches us that no blossom is wasted when it falls. The dropped flower rots. It serves an essential purpose when it returns to the soil, enriching the vine where it grows. The past feeds the present. This is a call to remember. Can the Rock who tends to the lilies of the field, even by way of their own moldering blossoms, not also work all things together for our good in such a way? In whatever relationship, whatever vision for our life that has withered and fallen to the ground, remember: Nothing falls unnoticed, and every fallen thing can enrich the loam of your heart as you grow and mature. Spring will return with a fresh savor for having passed through winter. Rocks tell us this as they whisper of eternity. There’s more. Just wait.

Related Topics:  Spiritual Life

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