As I mentioned in my last post, I attended a week-long retreat over spring break and had the chance to connect with a few other seniors over the prospect of graduating and to think about who we are, how far we’ve come, and where we’re going.
The staff asked us to be silent the first full morning we were there. It was a gorgeous spot on Lake Superior, a place I’d never been until this last week.
After breakfast, I walked down to the pebble beach and sat beside a log that had been left there for use as a bench. It was warm (incredibly warm for Minnesota) and the sun was on my face; something you don’t often get in March. I closed my eyes and meditated the best I know how (which, granted, is badly). But then I stopped, because I realized that I didn’t want to forget where I was, or even try to. So rather than pushing past sound, I started to focus on it. I listened to water with an intensity we’re not often allowed during the bustle of a day. And then I focused on the smell of the air and the lake and how crisp and cool it felt. And then I focused on the sun–how I could practically see it through my eyelids, and how you can hardly ever escape some measure of sight, even if you don’t know it. And then I focused on the way the sun touched my bare shoulders and the way the rocks felt beneath me. They were lovely rocks, all of them, I knew from walking around the day before. Many were perfectly round and black, tumbled by the lake until they were smooth. Some were white and spotted, others striped with some form of iron remnants.
I reached out and picked up one of the stones without looking, and I rolled it between my hands. It was slicked with wet sand and I cleaned it off with my eyes closed, slowly, rolling it over my skin until the stone was bare. It was smooth and flat and the perfect size for my palm, and I held it⎯thanked it, even, for the rest of the time I sat there.
When I sensed it was getting close to time for me to go and meet with the others, I opened my eyes and stretched, and then I looked at the stone in my hands.
It was lumpy and mottled and grey with a large chip in its side the I couldn’t even feel while holding it. I was surprised, almost horrified. How could my senses have lied so much?
And then I held it in my palm again, pressing it against the base of my fingers the way I had while “meditating.” and I saw that the chip and many of the other grooves fit against my fingers in a perfect, nested way. It nestled into me. I put the ugly stone into my bag and carried it for the rest of the retreat, and now it’s sitting by my bed at home. It reminded me to find the beauty⎯the fit⎯in everything. And I continue to be thankful for that.
In other news, check this out! My lovely editor sent it along last week, and it made me so happy! Squee!