On our way down to Florida, I stopped to visit a high school friend who currently lives outside of Tampa. We had a great visit: talked about what it means to be 50- something while eating quiche at a friend's cafe, soaked up son and salt air while walking on the Gulfport beach, and enjoyed some play time with her 5-year-old son. It can be dicey trying to connect with a child you don't know well, especially when your time is limited. You hope that you will be able to move from being a stranger, a friend of the parent, to becoming a friend of the child themself. Perhaps, if the fates are kind, you might even make a memory of your own, which is what happened to us, thanks in part to a lovely children's book M and I read together.
"If You Find a Rock," by Peggy Christian and Barbara Hirsch Lember is a great find. (I have several copies in my shopping cart on Amazon.) On each page, the author introduces us to a different type of rock one might happen upon, and what you can do with your new find. There are memory rocks, worry rocks, and skipping rocks, just to name a few. The photographs of children at play with their rocks makes reading the book all the more delightful. As I turned the pages, I started to smile, remembering how many times I had used rocks for these same purposes, how at one point, rocks were invitations to play or create or even imagine, more than lowly gravel under my feet.
As we were reading, my new friend started to respond to each page with the same phrase. "I've never seen a rock like that before," he'd say, with a mischievous look and a big smile, shaking his head. It became apparent we'd started a game, so I jumped in. I'd read a page, he'd respond. I'd try to challenge, or surprise or agree, but it didn't matter. The litany was the same. By the time we turned over the last page, all three of us were grinning from ear to ear. When we were finished, his mom suggested that he bring out his rock collection for me to see. Now it was my turn to respond with the appropriate phrase, and the mischievous look found a home in new eyes.
There is an art to seeing anew, to try to approach something with a different perspective, even if you've encountered a similar vista hundreds of times before. The sunset is repetitive, but the colors, or the location, or even the state of our heart makes it unique each evening. Last night's sunset was viewed from "Sunset Grill" here in Marathon. It is the same sun that sets over the silhouetted trees in Pennsylvania, but the experience is vastly different. And each day brings a freshness, a value that is created by an infinite number of probabilities.
I'm being invited these days into a new way of perceiving God. Not the way of seeing that one finds in the beauty of nature, or the goodness and creativity in people around me, although these have been powerful windows in the past. And not in fresh ways of thinking or analyzing, nor through revising my theology and paradigms, which have also been "eye-opening." Not even through worship, although I am wondering if that's the closest path I've been on so far. Rather, I'm intrigued to ignite, to develop, what mystics have called "the senses of the soul."
I'm not sure where that leads me, or what that even means, but I think it might be found "in stillness and simplicity," to quote a Michael Card song. I'm not even sure it is something that I can blog about, but who knows? I've never seen this road before...