Thursday, September 10, 2009


For our nature walk today, we walked by a river with a large cliff of shale. I love shale. I think it's because the house I grew up in was across the street from a hillside of the rock, and I spent hours and hours playing fort in the ditches the years of rain made. Or just poking at the ground with a stick, splitting the shale into crumbling slivers. Fond memories. Of course, then the bulldozers came and flattened my playground so a developer could build character-less cookie cutters houses over the sweetness of my youth. But I don't have hard feelings about that...
As I watched Jared and Hilary wade in the cold water, I listened to the sound of pebbles falling from the top of the canyon as the soft rock let loose and tumbled to the water below. This massive tree behind me was a labyrinth of exposed roots. Clinging desperately to the soil which fell away moment by moment. Even in the short time we were there, the landscape was changing. The ground was shifting. Never staying in one place for very long. History in pictures. Time in a late summer morning.
I tried to count the layers of sediment, but I got lost not even halfway up. So many layers. One on top of another. I've been thinking a lot lately about what makes people unique. About the layers. Old pictures, whether in hand or just in memory seem so distant. Like that person doesn't even exist anymore. But that's not true. That part of me, who I was, what I thought, what I felt, what I knew and didn't know, didn't disappear. I just built another layer.

Every time I learn something, it's another layer. The narrow layers are from the experiences that passed by smoothly, without a great deal of pressure. But the thicker layers took much more force to create. Whether it was from my stubbornness, necessity, or circumstance, those layers took time. Pebble upon pebble. Speck upon speck. Built through sorrow and joy. Sometimes more sorrow. Sometimes more joy.
I wonder if I could count my layers. Or get lost halfway up. I wonder if I even realize who I really am. So many layers, but each one dependent on the other. The surface held up by the years of blood, sweat and tears beneath.

I wonder how much more has to fall away, cut by the river. The chill of the water. The sparkle of the sun. I wonder what the next thing will be that God asks me to change. To let loose of the old and watch it tumble down to the river below, so I can make room for the new layer. Deeper, higher, stronger. One layer at a time.

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