Lessons from rocks

My granddaughter spent her first day at the beach collecting shell fragments. She took them back to the house and painted them purple, her new favorite color (replacing “rainbow”). The next day she moved on to rocks. It was low tide and to her delight they were everywhere. She picked up every rock she saw—a few dozen by the time she was done—and carried them away in a big red bucket.

I was a little more discriminating, searching out the ones that were small and smooth. My favorite is the ovoid pinkish rock pointing to 1 o’clock in the picture. Her parents left her rock collection behind when they headed home from our big family beach week, and I added a few of hers to my own before I returned the rest to nature.

Over the years I’ve brought home rocks from beaches all over the world. I put them in a desk drawer in little plastic bags, sure I’ll remember where each one came from, but in time I always forget. This time, at least for now, my Ocean City rocks are on top of my desk in a dish my daughter made way back in a high school ceramics class.

These are the things I want to remember when I see them:

My family is the most important thing to me in the world.

Each little rock in the the dish is interesting; some are more appealing than others. But they’re best when they’re all together, a whole that’s bigger than the sum of the parts.

The smooth ones don’t start out that way. My granddaughter says they get smooth because “the sand pushes down on them.” Life is like that sometimes.

And one more thing, this one not a lesson from rocks. A painted purple shell fragment is prettier than you might think when it’s the handiwork of someone you love.