The pneuma divina verse chosen during Sunday’s episode (by the way, didn’t those Skype guests rock? LOL) was Jesus telling his detractors that if the crowds were silent then the rocks themselves would shout out in praise. It got me thinking about rocks.
On my days off I love to spend my time with rocks, climbing them. The rocks I climb are nearly all the time manufactured facsimiles attached to indoor walls at the climbing gym. There are rocks on the climbing walls that bear no resemblance to their naturally occurring models. I’ve seen faces, alphabet letters, hands, and even a happy fat Buddha. They are made of plastic and are typically brightly colored. Truth be told, they don’t usually look very “rocky” at all. There is probably a lesson here about what humanity tends to do when we re-create nature. There is some urge in us to “clean things up.” I serve on my town’s Conservation Commission, so I hear it all the time. “We are just going to clean up the woods” typically means cut it down and plant grass (since this is New England, this always means a non-native invasive species) as a form of so-called improvement. Climbing gyms began as a way to practice for the “real thing” of outdoor climbing, but I am among the growing number of gym rats who enjoy the human created challenges in the controlled environment. So I guess I need to be a bit more self-critical the next time I fault someone for loving the artificial nature of a uniform green lawn.
While the rocks of the gym are perhaps artificially “cleaned up” versions of the real things, they differ from the finely trimmed lawn in their intentional diversity and regular change (One advantage of the rock gym is that the problems keep changing. Instead of going to a new climb, a new climb comes to you.) When a climber looks at a difficult climb in a gym, there is often only one way to ascend it, and the climber knows that it is by design since someone set the holds. Of course, there are some problems on rock walls that seem to defy solving so it appears that the designer was not only not intelligent but quite possibly evil! But, hey, it’s not the rocks’ fault, is it? Just like the rocks outside, it is easy to miss each one’s intrinsic value and see them only a small part of a larger system. That is, until you are reaching up for the next hold, taking for granted that your foot is secure on the small chip you just placed it on, only to lose concentration and lose the battle with gravity. Climbers learn to pay attention to the smallest details of the rocks they climb, since every bit is useful and some become essential. This sort of observation and connection, even with the inanimate parts of creation can only help us in our pursuit of the wonder that feeds our souls as well as our brains.
No doubt if Darkwood Brew were to have had a geologist on the show during this series we would have been regaled with the glorious gift that the stuff beneath our feet is. If there was a consistent take away each week, it was just how excited each scientist was about her or his field of study and all that it can teach all of us. Surely, the rich diversity of minerals and rock structures hold all sorts of information waiting to be unlocked and geological formations have lessons to tell us about what life has been and what it may yet become. The exceedingly slow changes to rocks point to the grand scale of geologic time, perhaps helping us to ponder eternity. Surely the very rocks that Jesus pointed to are still in the relatively same places where Jesus saw them. For all intents and purposes, they have always been there and always will, quite the opposite of our fleeting presence on this big rock orbiting the sun.
The same grandeur that we considered when we considered the fact that our constituent parts all came from the stars likewise makes the rocks quite grand themselves. And isn’t that connection across time and space part of what makes up the grandeur of praise for the creator, which we acknowledge by ascribing divinity? So the idea of rocks offering up praise might actually seem quite logical, for whatever the nature of a rock is, within it’s very substance is star stuff, so there is marvel, wonder and praise in that connection.