Building a rock sculpture of my own never even occurred to me. Not for a minute.
Let me set the scene for you.
I recently had the opportunity to tag along with my husband on a business trip. When he mentioned a conference in Hawaii in January, picture me jumping up and down with my hand raised: “Pick me! Pick me!”
If you haven’t been to Hawaii, envision the most breathtaking vistas God created to delight us on this earth, but all in one place. Smells, sounds and sights of the ocean, lush greenery decorated with colorful blooms, and craggy mountains rising in the distance. Because it is a collection of islands, there are daily opportunities to see the sun rising or setting in some kind of awe-inspiring, postcard moment. It is the perfect temperature every single day.
Also, by the way, whales jump in the air within view on a regular basis, usually followed by yelling and pointing from every person on the beach. I mean seriously, WHALES doing belly flops and cannonballs RIGHT THERE where you can watch them! I don’t know which was more fun to watch: the breaching whales or grown adults jumping up and down and squealing in delight on shore.
Although hubby was working, I had the freedom to explore. My absolute FAVORITE activity in any new locale is to take long walks. Lucky for me, our hotel in Wailea was situated at one end of a 2 mile oceanfront paved walkway, with epic views of the beach, winding through a variety of dwellings, gardens and restaurants. So I laced up the tennis shoes, turned on the Fitbit, and headed out to commune with nature. And also, obviously, crush that 10,000 steps goal, because I am a warrior.
The views were simply spectacular. I took picture after picture, trying to capture the views, knowing full well it was an exercise in futility. Occasionally, I would purposefully put my phone away and remind myself to just BE THERE: to quit worrying about capturing it with photographs and be fully present in that moment, drink it all in, eat it all up. After all, I was heading back home to a snowstorm!
As I rounded the corner, I noticed several people crouched down looking at something on a rocky point overlooking the ocean. As I got closer, I realized they were examining individual rock sculptures: piles of rocks, artfully arranged by human hands. Because the rocks were varied in size, color and shape, each pile was different. As I stopped to check it out more closely, I discovered there were numerous piles or sculptures spread out over this bed of rocks. A whole GARDEN of rock sculptures!
Obviously, I had to pull back out the phone and take a picture! And, in this case, I HAD to start furiously texting pictures and videos to my friend Chris. Chris is a brilliant artist and she has a THING about rock sculptures. In fact, take a minute to read these beautiful words about her rock sculpture experience- a story of community, connection and whimsy all found in a pile of rocks.
So I crawled around in the rocks, taking pictures for Chris. OOOOH, look at this one! I texted, knowing she would be delighted. And because she is lovely and loves me, she responded exactly as I knew she would, thrilled to share this moment of beauty with me from thousands of miles away.
As I returned to the path and headed back towards my hotel, I felt my phone buzz in my pocket again. It was a text from Chris:
I hope you built one to add to it 🙂
Picture a cartoon character stopping DEAD in their tracks, like they ran straight into a wall. I stopped, turned around, and went back to the rock sculpture garden.
It had never in a million years occurred to me to build one. I didn’t choose NOT to, I just didn’t think about being part of it. I was just a spectator. Although I enjoyed every single one, took pictures of them from multiple angles, and magically shared them with a friend several time zones away, I didn’t think I had anything new to offer. I’m not artsy like that. My medium is words, not rocks or color or anything visual. Mine wouldn’t be as good as these. What do I know about making something beautiful out of rocks?
Yet, what if everyone who stumbled by thought the same thing?
So, cheered on by my friend in Virginia, I built my own contribution. I offered my own gift. I added to the beauty. Not sure about the issues of balance, I decided to focus on color, not height. I carefully chose each rock for its individual beauty and then moved them around until it felt complete. Here is my offering:
I left the beach a little more lovely because I showed up. I offered what I had to give. I added my unique voice. The next person who crawls around taking pictures in those rocks will have a different experience because I took a moment to add to the beauty.
I think I can hear the soundtrack to “we are the world” playing in my head, but I feel this larger truth deeply. Sometimes we don’t contribute because we don’t think we have what it takes, it’s not OUR gift, our offering won’t be as good. And sometimes, we don’t add to the beauty because we simply forget it is our right, our privilege, our responsibility to do so. It is our job to participate.
Take my advice, surround yourself with friends who will remind you. Let me get that party started today:
My friend, I hope you build something to add to the beauty.