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What is a Small Stone?A small stone is a short piece of writing that precisely captures a fully-engaged moment.
No mystical phrase to murmur mindlessly until it becomes a series of meaningless sounds. No beads to occupy the fingers with the counting out of repetitions until a mystical number is reached, with nothing to show for it all but the passage of time.
A ball of yarn in a bowl, blue mist through clear glass. The fingers move, the thread flows from the bowl, winds snakelike through the hand, is caught up in the needles’ dance, and something useful takes shape.
In the mind’s still pond,
the silver thoughts swim slowly.
The heron chooses.
I went outside this morning, stepped off the porch and looked up, and the gold and oxblood red of the leaves on the trees next door, their colors richer than Croesus against the cold-crisped blue of sky, leaned down and gently kissed my eyes. I let the kiss linger.
Crocheting snowflakes with crochet thread that is twice as thick as quilting thread, and a size 5 (1.9 mm) crochet hook and a crochet pattern. Took me an hour to decipher the pattern and wrestle a finished object out of it, frogging out several bits in the process and trying again. I’ve finished crocheting it now, but it still has to be pinned out, soaked with stiffening liquid, sprinkled with opalescent embossing powder, turned over to have the process repeated, and a loop of ribbon hot glued on.
I’ll bet God didn’t have to work so hard to create snowflakes. All She had to do was just create a universe where specific laws of physics and chemistry operate, so that when She created water, it would enter a solid state at 32 F/0 C and form a six sided crystal. Then She built a planet out of dust and gas, a rocky world with lots of liquid water, gave it a humongous moon, set it spinning at an axial tilt of 23.5º, put it into a slightly elliptical orbit 93 million miles away from a G-type, main sequence star, sat back and watched that sucker churn them out by the bazillions. Piece of cake.
In the flat lands where the wind plays for keeps, and what it takes is gone, gone, gone. Where it thrums through the utility wires and leaves a film of dust over everything, including the sky. Where the wind has urgent and important things to do someplace else. Where the wind is as bored and restless as a rambunctious four-year-old who’s been cooped up inside all day. Where vast herds of wind take days to pass through. Where it blows with a fierce, relentless current like a river rushing through a gorge.
I am doing a hat meditation for a friend. Meditation wants accoutrements — candles, incense, a rosary or singing bowl. It wants location, a quiet place set apart from interruption. Meditation wants a point of focus — a word, a verse, a formula, some sort of mental coat hook on which to neatly hang one’s busy thoughts out of the way, to make room for meditation to occur. The accoutrements for a hat meditation are knitting needles, a ball of yarn, a bowl to put the yarn in, a cable needle. The quiet place is a comfortable chair and ottoman curtained off by soft music. The point of focus is the knitting pattern. And in the quiet meditation of knits and purls and cable crosses, memories of thirty years of our friendship drift quietly through the still waters like particolored koi slipping slowly through the dappled shadows underneath the lily pads, and now and again they undulate through open water where the sunlight sparkle on their scales. In the meditation of the hat, happy thoughts and blessings become tangled in the yarn, and slip into the weaving of the knits and purls and cable crosses of this hat that will go with a friend on a new journey to a new place, a new life.
And the zen of it is this: Intention effects outcome.
One does what one can.
Sunlight shining through raindrops makes rainbows. Life shining through souls makes art.