Rocks. The sermon this morning was on rocks.
My 2nd cup of the Elixir of Knowledge, the Dining/Living/Family Room window, and a gentle sugar-snow snowfall have me sliding through the snowdrifts of memories.
Without the hypothermia.
Which is nice.
They hide, looking like big lumps of snow. Until you hit 'em. With a toboggan full of Jr. Hi kids. And you're the Jr. Hi kid sitting in the front. Yeah.
Another sip of the Elixir and I realize that rocks were a big part of my growing up.
During the neighborhood dirt clod wars there was the occasional rock in the dirt clod.
Yeah. That leaves a mark.
One time (and it turned out to be the "only time") Mom tried something to make the biscuits rise faster by flipping a switch to disconnect the drum on the dryer, setting it to "bake", and shoving in a tray full of newborn biscuits. She forgot all about 'em until dinner time. Flour became stone, rocketing right up the Rockwell Hardness scale, leaving the idea of "bread" in the dust. As metamorphic as limestone to marble. Rocks.
Dad got out his drywall hatchet to continue the experiment. It took two sturdy taps to crack a biscuit. Three to split it. And they stayed hot. The butter melted really fast. It didn't soak in but, boy, did it melt. Hot, buttered rocks.
Then the big national transition happened in 6th grade. That's when rock'n'roll was usurped by rock. Elvis, the King, lost the kingdom to a British invasion who wanted to hold our hand. And our cash. We gave 'em both. Rock on, consumers. Rock on.
Around that same time our family went on the Great Rock Hunt at Strawberry Point, Iowa. Okay, it wasn't a trip to the Smithsonian, the Miracle Mile, or the Big Apple. It was family and we were all in one place doing something together. That's what I remember.
Well, that and the bleeding.
But first, a little backstory.
All of us kids had rock collections. Dad even had one. We were all given the inclination by the family's insurance agent, Mr. Ben. He was a very interesting man and his wife, Mrs. Ruth, was a saint. Mr. Ben had been Calamity Jane's paperboy in Deadwood, SD during the early 1900's. Ben was already in his 60's when we knew him and he would outlive his beloved Mrs. Ruth by about 20-some years, making it to a 100.
Mr. Ben was a certifiable, card-carrying-if-they'd-issue-one, genuine rock hound. He had hundreds of rocks categorized and displayed in his study. Our family would come over to his house to talk coverages and premiums. Mrs. Ruth always had cookies waiting and Mr. Ben would give us a small box with a dollop of mercury in it.
"You kids pick up that mercury and bring it to me and you'll each get a dime."
Him, Mom, and Dad would laugh and go have coffee. We sat on the porch, trying to corral the evasive blob while getting on each other's nerves. We never got it. But, in hind sight, if we had some tuna, we coulda been rich.
Dad and I even went to a Rock Show at the Veteran's Auditorium. There a guy asked me if I was interested in rocks. I replied, "I'm a rock hound." An old grey-haired guy next to me was bent over the table, examining the specimens. He never looked up.
"Rock hound?", he muttered through his beard, "you're just a pebble pup."
So that's why my family was splashing down an October-brisk shallow stream with blazing fall colors overhead. And flailing weapons. The weapons. That was Dad's fault.
Against Mom's wishes, Dad had gotten each one of us an Estwing hammer with a blunt end, a curvey end, and a bright blue rubber coating on the handle. Which, by the way, didn't stop it from hurtling around unsupervised once it got soaked and your fingers turned blue.
The point of the excursion was to find geodes. Not much to look at on the outside. Just a rock. And the stream was filled with rocks.
Give a kid a hammer and the whole world looks like a nail.
And one rock looks pretty much like any other rock.
I had single-handedly managed to turn 60 feet of streambed into fine gravel before exhaustion set in and I would finally listen.
"Look for baseballs and softballs. Round, brown, and hollow, bud.",
And there they were. Not much too look at on the outside. Ohhh, but baby...once they're broken. And...that's where the blood comes in.
Rule #1 of the Geode Hunter's Manifesto: "Don't smash 'em while you're holdin' 'em."
Painful. Even with numb fingers. But the coagulation was worth it.
There on the ground were sparkling crystals and smooth, lobed clusters. Sculptures unseen and unknown for centuries now glittering in the sunlight for the first time.
Amethyst geodes full of purple, sparkling glass. Cleopatra's Powder Boxes with white crystals and powdered rust where moisture had leaked in. And the most unique of all, (to me, anyway), was the grape geode, its interior coated with smooth, purple, grape-like lobes.
But you'd never know it or see it until...
My mind leaves the stream to circle back to the sermon before settling down at the table.
Huh. Makes sense.
What was that verse...
Something about us falling on the Stone and being broken. Which sounds better than the alternative in the verse - having the Stone fall on us and being smashed into powder.
Lemme take "broken" for $800, Alec.
Another pull of Elixir makes it pretty clear. How is anybody gonna see what He's doin' within me if I won't let Him break me enough to let them see inside?
Broken doesn't sound all that much fun. But I guess that's not the point. That's why He did it. why He chose to be broken. So we could see inside. And see the Father.
If I chose to be broken, the world will see Him. And through Him, they can see the Father.
And if I chose to stay round, brown, and intact? If I refuse to be broken?
Yeah. Seems appropriate.
"Dumb as a bag of rocks".