Wherever there is stillness there is the still small voice,
God’s speaking from the whirlwind, nature’s old song and dance . . . – Annie
Dillard, Teaching a Stone to Speak
Five months pregnant with twins, I waddled up a narrow,
rocky path. I was looking – listening –
for something in nature that might speak to me.
This was the culmination of a retreat day oriented around
nature as a source of revelation. Having
read an excerpt from Annie Dillard’s Teaching a Stone to Speak, we went
outside, tasked with the mission of listening for the voice of God in the midst
of the natural world. Our assignment was to bring back the object that spoke to us for sharing within the larger group.
Twenty of us wandered through the gravel parking lot, then
split off in different directions, uphill and down, into meadows and woods. I didn’t stray far, my body shouting clearly
that heavily pregnant women ought not go wandering the woods alone.
I surveyed the grassy edges of the parking area.
In the sea of green, a dark stone stood out. I leaned awkwardly with my arm outstretched
and plucked it from the grass where it nestled.
In my hand, though, it was just a stone. Bending again, I put it back.
Further up the hill, near the edge of the leafy
woods I saw another stone. This one was
white, surrounded by smaller, darker stones.
It stood out bright in contrast.
Bending to pick it up I realized it also stood out because
of its surroundings. I hesitated and
left it unmoved.
Every rock, leaf, branch that caught my eye was the
same. In its place, it spoke, but in my hand, it was reduced. It was probably the
third of fourth sighting before I heard what the stones were saying, “I’m
happy where I am.”
They whispered contentment, half-buried on the rocky trail
or sleeping in the bright green grass.
Not only were they happy where they were, but their placement was what
made them special.
Tears sprang to my eyes.
I was not content with where I was or where I was going. I didn’t want to be pregnant with twins,
dreaded leaving my job in a few months’ time, and couldn’t imaging, much less accept,
being a mother of four.
I left all of the stones in the woods that day and returned
to the meeting room with their words in my heart. The rocks had no say in their placement and
yet, they thrived. They were well placed right where they were.
Fast forward four years and a few months, through seasons of grief and fear, longing and hope, and I now find myself like those stones, happy in the place where I
In Psalm 16, the author puts it this way:
Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
you make my lot secure. The boundary
lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful
The psalmist here is a stone well placed and
I think of his words often when I glimpse the gift of this place we’ve been given; when I think about the paths I would have taken had I made my own way.
When have you found yourself unexpectedly well-placed? When has nature spoken to you?
* * *
Welcome to the #SmallWonder link-up.
What if we chose to deliberately look for the small moments of wonder, the small sparks of presence, of delight or sorrow, of true humanity in which we meet God?
That’s my proposal – that we gather here each week to share one moment of Wonder from each of our days.
You’re invited to link-up a brief post about a small moment of wonder. Don’t worry if your post is too long, too short, or not just right – you’re welcome to come as you are.
While you’re here, please do take a look around and encourage at least one other blogger with a comment.