Rocks are constantly being broken down and formed again. The rock cycle wears down sharp edges over time using a combination of stress and heat. Marble, slate, and diamonds are all amazing examples of beauty from a cycle of destruction.
Rocks can also hurt. I was seven years old when a kindergartener pelted me with stones as I walked to school. Little punk. A jagged edge caught me right on the hairline, and I had to get stitches. I still have the scar, barely discernible unless I feel around my forehead. The dent is still there, though.
Rocks are also symbols of great significance. In the Bible, the Lord is referred to as a rock, a pillar of strength, refuge in times of trouble, and a cornerstone. Stones have been and continue to be widely used to commemorate people, events, and sacred spaces.
One of the best ways to celebrate moving forward or make a commitment is through the use of stones in a Rock Ceremony.
Rock Ceremonies Bring People Together
For most of the fall, I participated in a support group for those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. On the last day, our scrappy group of eight badasses each chose a rock from a box.
“On one side, write a word or phrase – or even drawing – about something you took away from our group,” said the facilitator as she handed us Sharpies. “On the other side, put a word, phrase, or drawing of a commitment that you make to yourself going forward.”
I chose a stone with a dark gray background with cracks of a rich bronze color. I scratched my words in ink over the surfaces, one craggy side and the other smooth and rounded.
One at a time, we each shared our words and phrases on our rocks. Then we passed our rocks around to each person in the group, who said what they will remember about us and what they wished for us.
I was last to speak. Once I shared my words and phrases with the group, I handed my rock to the person on my left. She shared what she would remember about me and what she wished for me, then handed my stone to the next person. And the next.
What I Will Remember About You
What will I remember about you?
This is an awesome and unusual question. Not what you like or what you observe or what you notice, although all of that can be part of the memory. But what will you remember?
Remembering is a sacred act. A memory is magical, conjured from a scent or song or word. Treasures, like gemstones.
Memory can be tricky for those of us who have undergone unspeakable trauma. Memories can be buried or blocked, emerging in the dark in the form of nightmares or flashbacks.
Creating good and pleasant memories – and hearing from others what they like about you – is a true gift.
Like water from rock, quenching thirst in the desert.
What I Put Into This Rock
What do I wish the most for you?
This is the second thing that is shared in the rock ceremony – about you, as your rock is passed from person to person. Not what I don’t like about you, or your fatal flaws, or how you’re totally screwing up.
What do I wish the most for you? In the greatest compassion and in love? What do I see that you really need, and maybe you don’t even see that you need it?
This one cuts to the heart. Guess what? Almost everyone in my group thought I was funny. I knew that would happen. But what did they wish for me?
That my laughter isn’t always to take the edge off the pain. That my laughter can be the result of pure joy. That maybe I can have a little bit of actual fun, just for me.
Yeah, I’m crying a little right now. I feel a little smashed and even some pain. The pressure of heat and change on my dull, sharp edges.
Transforming me into something beautiful.
A Funny and Poignant Grief Book
For twenty years, I thought that I had been marching through the stages of grief in a straight line. I had been following the formula, crossing each processed grief experience off my list.
Except that I was totally deluded. And I didn’t discover that until Jim, my beloved father-in-law, died. I found myself drying off from my shower the morning after his death, really hoping he couldn’t see me naked. Or, if he could, that he was averting his eyes.
From that moment, my path through grief resembled a roller coaster, spiraling and twisting and turning, circling back around. Echoes of past trauma, including childhood abuse and cheating death, would no longer be ignored. I somehow needed to get from the beginning to the end of this grief adventure, and I don’t have a good sense of direction.
But what is always present during a journey through grief, regardless of the path chosen?
Caskets From Costco is a funny grief book that demonstrates the certainty of hope and healing in an uncertain and painful world.