Who Moved My Rock?

(Warning: This post is NOT going to matter!)

I have a truly anti-climactic, self-absorbed, boring and pointless story to tell, which I wouldn’t wish on any reader ever.  Let me take this opportunity and talk you out of reading it.  Click off right now, and spare yourself the trouble.  There is NOTHING to see here.  And so, if you are still reading, then I presume there is almost no way I can shake you off.  Welcome to my story.  Here goes a real rambler….

Okay…

Starting with just the basic facts: When I was fifteen years old, my family moved from a small town in Texas where we had lived for over five years to another small town way out west.  It was a sad move.  Very hard.  I don’t think any of us really wanted to go, but Dad had been fired as a preacher by the little church he served, and despite his dismissal from the flock of our very bass-ackward, fundamentalist church, practically everyone else in town who was not a member lamented this move too.  Several people came to my dad asking him to start another church and assured him they would join it and support him.

Well, all of that is factual, though subjectively emotional too.

But here’s the part I really want to talk about: The Rock.

I was just a kid at the time.  I went from elementary school through junior high and into high school in that little town, and I felt deeper roots there than anywhere I had ever known in my short life.  I had hoped my friends there would be life-long friends.  But we were leaving, and so one of the little, very personal, child-like things I did before going was that I set up a rock on a fencepost and wondered how long it would stay there untouched..

The rock was not very big.  More than a pebble, sure… probably twice as big as my fist.  Big enough I felt sure no wind short of a tornado would move it.  And I found a sturdy fencepost in a fence which looked like it had been there all my life already, and I placed the rock squarely on the top of the post.  I checked it, and it sat there solidly.  In fact, I checked it regularly for a couple of weeks before we left town, and took every opportunity to inspect it to see if it wobbled or moved.  It did not.

The fence was inconspicuous, but it was not hidden somewhere in no-man’s-land.  It was near a public area, a fence roughly midway between the Boy Scout hut and the baseball field, yet thirty paces off the road too.  In five years of living there, I had never seen that particular fence, and most certainly that particular fence post, disturbed in the slightest.

Thus my rock was hidden in plain sight.  I intended it to not be noticed, and I called no attention to it.  In fact, I told no one about it EVER.  It was just a witness between God and me alone.  Our little secret thing.  Yet it was almost like a pile of stones one of Israel’s patriarch’s might have set up at Mizpah or at the Jordan crossing, except in this case it was just one precarious stone inconspicuously left atop a fencepost.

It was my mark on the world.

It said I WAS HERE; I belonged.  I remember you; do you remember me?  But it did not shout or seek attention with anyone but God.  And I knew I was leaving it for him to watch, because once I was gone, even I would no longer be able to monitor it.

I knew there would come a day when it would be moved.  But how?  Under what circumstance??  Who and when???

I was assuredly never going to know.  It was a thing that once done would not be appreciated by the one who did it.  Still, through the years I have wondered about that rock.

In fact the first year or so after moving away, I am sure I contemplated that rock many times.  I can see myself as a new student in my new school the next fall finding my first-period class and standing there at the door waiting for the teacher to arrive to let in the students.  I watched so many kids pass by, all of them seeming to have friends, seeming to know where they were going, having a reason to be there and a point to their lives… while I waited for the bell to ring.  I think I thought about that rock just then.

Eventually, I too had friends to be with and places to be and things to do, and my world was a swirl of newness – everything from parties to campouts to sledding in the snow.  We had a new house, new TV shows premiered that fall, there was a new football team to cheer for, and some of my new friends had driver’s licenses (as soon I did too) which also opened up new vistas.  And yet in the midst of all that swirl, I would think about that rock and wonder.  .

It’s funny to me now more than 35 years later that I think about that rock still – maybe even more now than I did when I was a kid.

I went back to visit that little town with my family two and a half years later, actually.  The townsfolk (not the church) actually put on a banquet to honor my dad and us (his family).  As I recall, I was overwhelmed during that visit by how much all my friends had grown up and changed in the intervening time.  A year after that, I was graduated from high school and left home, and my travels took me to a town near that Texas town again, and I dropped in for a visit then too.  Then a third time, twenty years later, I had an opportunity to stop in on that little town yet again, this time with my dad who was treated like a rock star mobbed by groupies and autograph hounds backstage when the townsfolk discovered he was in their country store!  Yet in none of those visits did I check on the fencepost to see if the rock was still there.  I mean “the rocket’s red glare and the bombs bursting in air gave proof through the night that our flag was still there,” but I failed to see if my rock was.

I had not forgot it, but I didn’t get the opportunity to investigate it, and it didn’t seem important enough to try.  And anyway, I felt it was too personal – that I would be embarrassed to mention it to others.  And anyway, maybe I didn’t want to see it was moved – a bit of denial.  I could hope it was still there if I did NOT look.  So, I let the rock remain a mystery in what seemed like perpetuity.

That is… until five years ago when my wife and I drove my stepson to San Antonio to drop him off for advanced military training as a United States Marine at Lackland AFB.  Our little road trip allowed us to swing by the old home town and spend an hour poking around.  I didn’t seek anyone to visit, only the rock.

On that day, roughly thirty years after leaving that rock on that fencepost, I finally had the chance to drive down there, get out of the car, and walk up to the spot.  And what I found was a completely renovated plot of land!  The fence was gone, not just the rock!  Not only that, but just down the road two hundred yards, was bridge across the creek bed which led into the park.  I think of all the times (and all the time) I ever spent on or crossing that bridge, and yet it was replaced with a new one!  Ironically, though, the old one, in disrepair and disuse, is still there right next to the new one.  If I would have had any idea about the temporality of that bridge, I would not have given the rock on the fencepost any thought.

Go figure. But that bridge is another story for another time.

So, I searched the fence line carefully for a rock at the place where I was certain I had left it as a kid when I was nervous about my place in the world and any impact I might have on it.  I wondered aloud to God about it.  When did it move?  How long did my little mark on this world, “set in stone” no less, last?  Did it last one year?  Two??  Ten???  Twenty????

Did it last even one day?

How did it get moved?  Did someone finally notice it, walk up to it and take it in hand and ask themselves or God, “Who put this here?  How curious?”  And if they did, might I ever find out who it was, and would they remember it now?

Talk about your long shot!

In the Shawshank Redemption, Andy leaves Red a box buried under “a rock that has no business being there” next to a stone wall under a tree, which years later Red finds, and by which their friendship finds new life outside of prison.  That too was a long shot, but this? THIS???

Talk about your long shot!

The futility has me asking:  Did someone accidently back their Chevy up to the fence and bump it and drive off, thus without even knowing it erasing my little mark on the world?

As you can see, I have given a lot of thought to that rock.

Who moved my rock?

I knew it would move when I put it there; I knew it.  I did not actually expect it to stay, but still thirty years later, I walked out to the spot just to check.  Just to check.  An adult, still worried about what that kid so long ago had done.

And in the years since, I have not talked about it.  But I have given it far more thought in recent times than I did as a kid.  I mean, I wasn’t thinking about that rock when I went to the Metallica concert in 96 or to Chicago’s Sears Tower in 2001.  I wasn’t thinking about that rock at my mom’s funeral or watching the sunset over Yarnell, Arizona.  There were many, many special moments in my life in which that rock was the furthest thing from my mind, but it was a rock, and I was sure that short of a tornado hitting it, the wind would not move it.  It lacked permanence, but it had staying power – certainly if it continued to be unnoticed in obscurity.

And why did I choose impermanence and obscurity for my rock?  Why did I do that?

Because I shared it with God, and I know he is into those long shots.  It’s his thing.  And I wanted in on THAT.

So, who moved my rock?

God only knows.

 

9 comments

  1. Tim McGee · February 16, 2020

    Ahhh but it hasn’t moved, has it? An unremarkable marker of a time gone by is still part of you, if not part of the landscape. Time and circumstances change landscape and men, but the memory of the rock is still within you. You’ve moved on but you still are attracted to the rock that marks time. Kinda cool, really. Thanks for the story.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. harolene · February 16, 2020

    No words, none. We must be twins of the mind separated at birth. As a P.K. myself with totally similar experiences I have done the same thing time after time and never heard of another soul who did anything like that. There’s an attic in a house on a street that I venture to drive in front of on rare occasions… maybe one day I will pick up enough nerve to check on my “rock”, she said with tears running down her face 😢💔

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agent X · February 16, 2020

      What things – maybe even really very important things – do you think the sons and daughters of the prophets know better than maybe anyone else?

      There is a strong sense of “just passing through” this life that goes with living a PK life. No work is more important. Not even first grade teaching! Not rocket surgery!! Not stock trading!!! In fact, more often than not, it is some of the lowest pay too. Primed for impermanence in every possible measure except eternity. And yet as a PK, like a fish in water doesn’t know what out-of-water is, you know nothing else… but the pain and uprootedness of it.

      But as a teenager, I realized that we were seeing something those rooted where they are do not. And it seems to have taken repeated exposure to make it clear, and yet so many years later with reflection to find any connection to usefulness. But when you love people, really love people, and then lose them (especially when uprooting and moving to a whole new community far away), there is a funny phenom at work in your heart and mind – that you see people you KNEW in strangers you see so far away.

      This thing came to light especially since my little sister was in junior high at a different campus from the high school where I attended. She would come home in the first few days and weeks and talk about a boy she saw who reminded her of one of our old friends… only…. (whatever differences insert here). I was having the same experience at my school, and even Mom and Dad would talk like this, and our dinner conversation would go like this off and on for weeks.

      And the old friends we thought we were seeing in the new friends and strangers were not up to us. We didn’t choose who looked, talked like, sounded like, acted like… (whoever from before). That was a random thing thrust upon us, but we could not help but notice! And there weren’t just tons of these experiences but each of us had a few.

      And then this experience would dictate that we file the new person in a “category” in our minds. This new acquaintance had one or two features (maybe just a nose or a hairstyle) like a former friend, but the emotional register regarding that person attached so much trust and love or even fear or disgust on the new person we encountered. All completely unwarranted, and almost assuredly off base. One or two features about a person does not make them the same as your old friend. Not at all. But my mind and my heart kept trying to force the new person into some mental category I had for the old.

      Then there was the sad way that we could not join the conversation of the new community past simple clichés and introductions. I had lots of experiences to talk about, but I shared hardly any of them with the new group. I spoke, alright, but what I had to say came off as so irrelevant.

      I recall how my best friend from high school (he is still a friend to this day, though distant) years later recalled how that when he met me I kept talking about some guy named “Chippy” – which was not actually the boy’s name, and showed me how little regard my new best friend had for what I was saying since he messed up the name. But sure enough, at the time I left the old town, there was an older boy who went by a name which was similar to “Chippy” who had been a powerful social influence on me. In fact, he was a popular kid in the old town who seemed to show me quite a lot of deference and respect! So, when I think about it now, I was desperately trying to appeal to “Chippy’s” clout among my new friends to leverage some respect with them too, but of course that was just the emotions working and not making any sense of real life.

      My new friends would talk about the arcade where the new Pac Man game was, but it burned down last year. It was a sad thing, and everyone was bummed still. But I was new and had no memory of it. It had not affected me. But all my new friends had this shared grief that I was an outsider to, and there was no seat for me at their table when they wanted to lament it.

      It takes time to make new memories. And even then, the old timers will always see me as the new kid!

      I can do things to boost my influence and popularity, yes. But I can do practically nothing to obtain the roots.

      Of course, as any PK knows all to well, moving is a chance to “re-invent yourself” in a sense. But that is hard to do too. When I lived in Texas, I was a country kid, but I was not a cowboy. Nevertheless, all, and I mean ALL – the kids at my school wore the Wrangler brand blue jeans. But when I arrived at the new town trying to “reinvent myself” with the new crowd, I found it was a much bigger town, a much bigger school, with more well-defined cliques. And in the new town, the ONLY kids wearing Wrangler jeans, which I had a closet full of, were cowboys and cowgirls. And at 15 years old, this was NOT LOST ON ME.

      You know how my best friend and I bonded?

      There is a whole story there, but it all happened almost instantly when right in the first five minutes of meeting him he asked, “You like heavy metal?”

      Oh yeah!

      We started a band.

      (Don’t ask about that. Talk about irrelevant experiences!!!)

      Anyway, I was in all the wrong clothes for the clique I was trying to get in. It took a while to get the whole closet changed over, but fortunately for me, I was a growing boy still. But I will never forget being openly chastised for not having Levi’s 501 Shrink-to-Fit jeans. And I remember being mortified until I finally had two pair.

      PK life.

      Hmmm…

      Did I mention Jesus in any of this yet?

      Oh my… I hardly noticed.

      Yeah. What does Jesus care about blue jeans???

      I don’t think he does.

      But you know what? I think there is something to that stuff about my mind and heart seeing old friends in the new faces. I think Jesus is playing with THAT PHENOM when he shows up looking like a stranger only to be recognized in the breaking of bread. God makes our hearts and minds to feel and to know things and to find him through our tears like Mary the whore in the garden on the first day of the week find “the gardener” and is surprised.

      I think there is something there to explore. And I happen to know that there are a LOT of us PK’s out there who have been splintered within our own psych – even more held apart from one another. If we started comparing notes, meditating on it, we might really put our little pieces together and find a whole OTHER picture of life from a vantage point few, if any, ever have.

      Who moved my Rock?

      I know the rocks will cry out if the sons refuse to offer praise.

      I wonder if the rocks will be called to testify some day. What will that little rock say? It will remember me. It will know what child of God held it in his hand and dared to dream. What story will it tell??? And if we all show up at the tellings of our “rocks” what testimony will the earth give??? Perhaps we could share our notes on this now and begin to find out.

      Liked by 1 person

      • harolene · February 16, 2020

        I have a few things to say, when the twins are down I will reply ‼️

        Like

  3. Spy Vs Spy · February 16, 2020

    Wow! Very touching….

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Michael Bolstler · February 17, 2020

    Hah, weird, I’m not sure if one of them is yours, but I found a couple rocks recently at a nearby Church, next to a post, up here in Canada. There was a big hump of ivy there before, I thought it was a utility box underneath them, but no, it was a pair of rocks.

    I don’t know how or if I could get pictures on your comments section, so sorry for referral but I put the picture on my blog post at the time http://www.godispossible.com/?p=746

    If one of these was yours, I am very impressed you got it to the top of the pole. I think with all my strength, I could move them about as far as God’s cornerstone, which is to say not at all. A firm foundation if ever there was.

    Like

  5. craig lock · February 24, 2020

    Reblogged this on My Blog.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s