THANKS TO A ROCK!
The rain hadn’t stopped all day, which was unusual since this is Southern California: the land of warm sunny days, flip flops and tank tops, but not today. The cold blustery day actually brought people into the gift shop that I work at part time to escape the wet streets and wander around in some warmth. While they warmed up, perhaps they would find a gift for themselves to remember their time in this seaside paradise or maybe a souvenir or trinket for the dog-sitter or Mom back home. But that day, one gift in particular was special.
I’d not worked there long but in my short stint I’d sold my fair share of worry stones. Some are made of sea glass, others petrified wood. All of them have sayings on them; peace, joy, happiness, magic, etc… Designed to be in your pocket, you reach in, rub the rock, and hopefully rub away some worries.
As the day wore on people came and went until evening arrived. The sun managed to peak out just enough, melting the evening sky over the ocean and sand when she walked in.
She came with friends and, even though I didn’t notice at first, she walked a little separate from the others. Alone. The others in her party joyfully walked through the store chatting to one another. Each holding their to-go bags from an earlier dinner. She stopped immediately at the bowl of rocks, paused over them just for a moment, chose one and put it on my counter, declaring she would take the rock but would look around for a minute in the shop. After browsing she came back to the wrap up desk. She bought nothing else on this damp, chilly evening. She knew what she wanted, what she needed. A rock. I rang her up and made small talk with her. I asked if she needed a bag, but she declined. I offered to put it in tissue to be placed into her handbag, again she said no. Then she explained she just wanted to put it in her pocket and rub on it. It was then I noticed the pain in her face. She said she needed the rock now. Her fingers rubbed across the smooth surface as we spoke, hoping it would begin to help ease her woes immediately.
I know that pain. Perhaps we all do at some point. At that moment I felt compelled to tell her my own special rock story.
I was in sunny Florida. It was a much needed vacation but unfortunately on this trip I brought my cares with me. My Prince Charming husband and I had decided to go out to the beach. It was an intensely hot afternoon with the bright Florida sun beating down on me turning me the color of a firecracker and with the burdens I was carrying I was sure I might actually explode like one. After walking a short distance down the beach my husband decided to go and get us some cold bottled water and I continued strolling. Looking out at the sea, occasionally reaching down to examine a shell on the sand. Walking along, alone with my worries.
I’ve always found solace in the sea. I think that’s why I’ve always tried to live near it. I like the idea of leaving my debilitating thoughts on the beach for the pounding surf to grab hold of and carry them away into the black depths of the sea. Crushing them against the coral and kelp beds, having the remaining bits get eaten by the small fish. At least that’s what I like to envision in my mind.
On that day, I was holding tight to them, unable to let go. It was then I noticed him walking toward me. He walked across the blazing sand with a purpose. Stopping in front of me. He held out his hand, in it was a rock. A stone from the Atlantic, rubbed partially smooth from the slow, gentle rock of the ocean. He handed it to me and said, “I found this rock for you. You look like you need it. Over the years put your hand on it and rub it when you’re worried or carrying too many cares. Eventually the rock will be smooth as silk. When the rock is smooth, you and I will meet again.” I was taken aback by his gesture of kindness. He saw the pain in my face, as I saw it on my customer’s face and felt moved to aid me in finding a way to happiness. Giving me a small but obvious token of generous human spirit. Perhaps he felt my pain. Was I emitting like a beacon of light from the lighthouse on the point? Guiding him to me like a ship to safety? Was he giving me a safe shore to pull up to?
I thanked him and expressed how moved I was by his gesture. I told him that I did indeed hope that we would meet again someday. I watched him walk away, continuing down the beach. He met up with his family, wrapped his arm around his wife’s waist and they walked on. Was he telling her what had just happened? As he got further into the distance I looked at the rock, began to rub it and the tears streamed down my hot sunburned cheeks.
I still have this rock. It’s quite a bit smoother today than the day it was so lovingly bestowed upon me but it’s not butter-like so he and I have not yet met again. I am still hoping we will. I’d love the opportunity to share how truly touched I was by his kindness. A kindness I try to remember when I’m out in the world. I still have many cares and worries but in hopes of finding release or answers, I rub that rock.
I shared my story with my customer and she attentively listened with an open heart. I told her that I was hoping she’d find some peace rubbing her rock. I also suggested that she take a walk on our nearby beach, before going back home, and possibly cast some of her cares into the ocean for them to be swallowed up.
Her eyes welled up with tears and she told me that with her, I had indeed repaid the kindness that was long ago shown to me. We shook hands and I told her that someday I hoped that she and I would also meet again. She said she wished the same. She left the store and was lost into the blackness. Years from now when our cares are hopefully lighter, perhaps on a warm, sunny day the ocean breeze with blow us together again.
I hope so.