There were piles of stones throughout the Middle East. Stuccoed flat walls were hard to come by, graffiti traces unknown. But when you came upon a pile of stones you knew there was a story, a reason behind the arduous work of setting stone upon stone.
In the high Sierras, glacial swept ground leaves very little soil to mark a trail. Small piles of stone dot the granite to lead the way. “Look here, a human made this for a purpose.”
Stones of remembrance.
How much easier if the stones could speak? Annie Dillard once write a book called, “Teaching a Stone to Talk”. A character in the book had selected a likely stone from a nearby creek, placed it on his mantle, and for five to ten minutes each day, he patiently tried to teach the stone to speak. My guess is that he is still trying.
I just read an article where the writer had recently re-read books from his past. He had read Dillard’s “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek” twenty years ago. He freely admitted he thought it was a bit “nutty”. Now, he re-read it and found it wise, funny and delightful.
The book hadn’t changed. Was something added to his life during the past twenty years to cause him to see the book in a new light? Or was something peeled away?
What is true about a creek, may also be true about people. “You can never cross the same creek twice, the water is different.”
Time changes everything, even people. “You can never meet the same person twice. Time passes.”
People are also used as “touchstones”. Things are falling into chaos, but one individual is still there, connecting the past to the future. They are trusted, they may even have some answers. Mostly you don’t ask them, their presence is enough assurance that things will work out.
They are given credit far beyond their actual abilities, but that is fair, because they are there, and they have given their “pound of flesh”.
We need our piles of rock. We need our touchstones, even if we both change, because changing together is a powerful bond.