My youngest son, Luke, wrote a poem, “The Art of Lifting Stones,” in his senior year of college. I read it often. I read it again this morning. Have you turned over any rocks lately? Rocks abound everywhere, without and within, and there is “life” beneath each one if we have eyes to see. Some stones need to be lifted up and removed to allow light; others need to be lifted to see what lies under them, and then gently replaced to protect the life beneath.
Lifting rocks in the forest marsh,
I smell the decrepit moss
and the life of the underneaths
of things as the earth’s crust crumbles.
Insects flee the light and cold air
like criminals under search-lights,
except a slug who creeps away
aloof as a glacier.
Ant refugees scurry from my eye,
tugging their larvae like luggage
over a ravaged countryside.
But they do not perceive me,
only the fear, fragmented light.
My father taught me this: to turn
over rocks on banks of streams, to glimpse
crayfish stirring in clouds of mud mist,
to watch turtlebugs ball up like porcupines,
or panic, darting into crumbling tunnels
like dreams upon waking. But this above all;
to return gently all stones, to allow dampness
darkness, to let dreams creep
hidden under sleep, to leave things
as they are, snug in the body of God.
But I searched the streams dry
and tossed all shadows aside;
I wanted God to have no place to hide.