This heart shaped stone has the word "unacceptance" written on it. I picked it up at the close of a morning prayer session at a retreat last week.
During that prayer time we were invited to write one of our fears on a stone and place it on a table. I know that there were readings and prayers offered, but I can't recall anything that was said. The real lesson for me that day was in looking at the written fears placed on that table by all the others in the room.
And the lesson has just kept on giving, moving in me and changing me.
What struck me first was that so many of the stones had similar fears written on them, at least they were similar to my own. "Not good enough" was a common theme. (Why, oh why do we beat ourselves up with that notion?)
I chose to place this heart shaped stone in my jeans pocket. I thought of whoever might have written that fear, and sent loving thoughts her way, even though I have no idea who wrote it. How sad, I thought, that someone among us last week was afraid of not being accepted. I went back to my room and wrote a sappy, rhyming, silly poem about this...and I won't even share it here.
The longer I carried this stone that day, the more aware I became of just how much I shared that same fear. I returned to my notebook and wrote differently:
"Can I tell you that I am holding your fear, that I picked it up from where you left it, that is is carried gently in my pocket, the stone warmed by my body...can I tell you that?
And can I just let you know that your fear is also mine, the word you placed on the stone summarizing what paralyzes me, the fear that stops me in my tracks, is it okay for me to let you know this?
One more question, long and winding, did you know that I feel blessed as I hold your fear in my pocket, the weight of it diminished, but did you see that the stone is shaped like a heart of love?"
Later that day, my head was hurting, so I went to my room to rest.
Rest did not come easy, however, because this stone, this fear that had been expressed was working on me. There came the awful realization that I may have been the cause for someone to feel unaccepted...and I felt convicted.
All I could think was "I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry." I sobbed.
Then there was a clear, distinct message that this fear has more to do with not accepting my self. How, after all, can I accept another if I don't accept myself just as I am?
At these retreats I always learn more from surprising little things. There are cracks that allow the light to come in.
* * * * *
This morning I decided to take a photo of this stone so I could share it with you here. It's been raining here this morning, and I wanted to take advantage of the puddles and get the stone wet.
Here is what happened:
Rainwater changed the look of this stone. "Unacceptance" was gone.
I can't tell you that the writing, the fear, was permanently gone because that would not be true. When the water dried I could still read what was written there.
But I can tell you that this simple exercise in addressing fears found a crack in my heart and the light was allowed in. I have that stone in my jeans pocket again today, and it continues to teach me.
"All who are thirsty, come to the water!
You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat.
Come, without paying and without cost,
drink wine and milk!
Why spend your money for what is not bread,
your wages for what fails to satisfy?
Heed me, and you shall eat well,
you shall delight in rich fare.
Come to me heedfully,
listen, that you may have life."