I am a man of a certain age, which means, among other things, certain words bring certain images to my mind no matter how hard I try to push them out.
For example, for most of my life, whenever I heard the word rocks I automatically thought of a concert scene, bright lights, electric instruments, and so forth. It was the world I grew up in – the mid-life transition years of rock-n-roll.
The early years were the Bill Haley and the Comets sorts of years. Songs were about 2 minutes long and, while they had a beat my evangelical pastors thought questionable at best, they were catchy… you’d find yourself humming an actual tune in the aftermath of a performance. I loved those songs!
The mid-life transition years were the years when music moved from the Beach Boys, Beatles, and Monkees to the Beatles (2nd gen), Steppenwolf, and The Who. The music took on a much rougher edge – the long hair of the early ‘60’s was replaced by the longer hair of the late ‘60’s.
Mixed in for good measure in those middle years was a resurgence of pop music (a new era of the vocalists like the 1940’s) and the wonderful world of folk music (if you missed this window to the world, stop what you’re doing NOW and rent, download, whatever… A Mighty Wind – a must see!).
The impact of Rock on my generation was so profound that the word itself became a synonym for anything or anyone who was, in any way, outstanding (as in ‘that rocks,’ or ‘it rocks,’ or ‘he/she rocks’).
Just before my generation usurped that word and transformed it, my grandparents generation thought of it as a gentle, lulling motion even famously naming a chair after the action: think Cracker Barrel, front porches, sleeping babies, etc.
However, for the thousands of years of world before that, rock had primarily referred to, well, rocks.
Rocks can be awe-inspiring…
- I grew up near Atlanta and made a lot of trips to and even more by, Stone Mountain, which is essentially a great, big rock
- When I worked for a publishing house I once had an assignment in South Dakota and took an hour drive out to see the carvings in the rock on the side of Mount Rushmore
- While on a recent vacation, Adele/I took a day trip to the Maine coast to rest in the awesome sight of the Atlantic crashing against those rocky cliffs
But rocks can also be a nuisance!
I have a friend who is one of the most details-given people ever born.
When we first met, he was attending a class I led and asked all the questions no one else dared ask – the ones that pushed me past the sweeping horizon of a prepared lecture and into the delight of meaningful thought. Later we shared a season of spiritual friendship in which we spoke into each other’s lives in regards to spiritual quest, intentionally. From those launching platforms, just plain old friendship naturally emerged.
A few years ago he bought a house to flip. His sweet wife has shown the patience of Job since then – not because of the time it takes (although I think they really like doing those projects together) but because the quality of workmanship is just so outstanding!
Most of the work is, of course, indoors. But a summer or so ago he tackled the backyard. He was telling me about how rocky the soil was when he first turned it. So I asked what he did. The answer? Hands and knees (he and his honey) crisscrossing the back yard in a matrix like grid he created, picking up and tossing out every single, tiny pebble. Now that’s devotion – discipline – odd!
This morning I was reading a wonderful story Jesus once told of seed scattered and the varieties of soil on which the seed fell. One of the soils made me think of Shay’s backyard… rocky. The story described that seed, falling on such ground, as seed that simply didn’t root well. (Which is why my friends meticulously removed every tiny pebble.)
And so I wondered: Just how much seed (dynamic, life-filled potential from our Father) falls in my life-yard every day but never matures because my ground is too rocky.
Am I willing to get on my hands and knees and meticulously work the grid of my life in order to remove every, single pebble… every barrier standing in the way of the actual experience of incredible, abundant, meaningful life?
I have an overwhelming sense that, if I answer ‘yes,’ I will find company for the task – spiritual friends with whom I am in community, my soul mate, and even Jesus Himself!
I also know the easier answer is ‘no’. Leave well enough alone. Accept things as they are and change the dream from ‘lovely yard’ to ‘acceptable rock garden’.
I don’t like the ‘no’ option. Yet I am both motivated and terrified by the ‘yes’. Somewhere in the back of my mind I find myself wondering if the careful discipline will bear fruit. In Jesus’ story it does. In my past it has. So, why not?! Adventure!