Although our house isn’t directly on an old riverbed, much of the area surrounding us is–and our church is. There is a lot of quarrying of gravel and stone. But mostly just a lot of rocks. Simple rock, lots of granite. Everything from sand to boulders.
When I was little, I would often find “treasures” as I walked home from school or played in the streets (which were our playground). These treasures were often pieces of machines: gears, springs, screws, etc. I would pick them up and put them in my pocket, and I would carry them around with me for weeks or days until I figured out what they were. After making this determination, I would throw it out and begin my search for the next treasure. I got pretty good at doing this.
Now that I’m older, my pockets are filled with a different kind of treasure. Mostly (but not all) little rocks. These rocks are reminders to me. I’ll be making my way through the world, and I’ll reach into my pocket and feel my collection. One rock or other item will make itself known to me–sometimes in a very insistent way–and I will rub it and hold it for awhile. This is a kind of prayer. Sometimes the prayer takes on words; often it is silent meditation. Each rock in my pocket represents a person who I know or know of who needs prayer. Sometimes they know that they need prayer and have requested it. Other times, it’s just something that I have opted to do for someone. Although my rocks are mostly larger than rosary beads, I still call them my deconstructed rosary.
The difference between my prayer rocks and my childhood treasures is that I never cast off my prayers. Once I’ve added to my rock collection, it remains there. It’s gotten so that I can’t carry all of these all the time. But I have a little place where I put them. Some are with me all the time; others get attention in the morning or the evening and get carried around when I know the person is in particular need.
This crazy spiritual practice is one that adds much to my prayer life. It’s one that I’ve told a few people about, but mostly keep to myself. So if you see me and notice that my pockets seem heavy and lumpy, know that I’m praying hard that day.”
This is one way that I try to live into the words of Jesus:
… “And when you pray, don’t behave like the hypocrites; they love to pray standing up in the synagogues and on street corners for people to see them. The truth is, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go to your room, shut the door, and pray to God who is in that secret place, and your Abba God–who sees all that is done in secret–will reward you.“And when you pray, don’t babble like the Gentiles. They think God will hear them if they use a lot of words. Don’t imitate them. Your God knows what you need before you ask it.”(Matthew 6:5-8, The Inclusive Bible–Priests for Equality)
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