Wednesday, March 16, 2011

When Stones Go Unturned

I find fieldstone to be particularly interesting for the character which is captured in each rock. A number of years ago we landscaped our yard, and needed to acquire a couple of pickup trucks of fieldstone. My father-in-law's farm near West Bloomfield became a logical destination; after all, farmer's are constantly scrounging their fields to gather them as the earth churns them to the surface. Gene had a back pasture peppered with a variety of stones, but I quickly discovered this parcel was a natural phenomenon. Rocks were not transported here by him as a dumping ground, but left behind in a glacier melt many thousands of years ago. I found the 'rock garden' as something wonderful and unique, but to Gene it was just a field of rocks. As I surveyed my find, I took notice of how many fieldstones were still buried in the ground with only a portion of their surface exposed, almost like an iceberg in the ocean's water. Taking my shovel, I removed some of the soil to reveal more of the rock's hidden side. Like a kid in a candy shop, I was in awe of the variety and number of stones which were available to me, but yet there were hundreds of other stones which would never be touched by my hands nor examined by my eyes.
As my life journey continues, I often reflect on Gene's field of rocks. As teachers, we walk amidst a field of students everyday, often neglecting the character and uniqueness which each holds inside. We touch the minds of a few, impacting their life in special ways, yet there remains a pasture full of unturned stones. While we may see their faces and acknowledge their presence, there is an overwhelming portion which sits below the surface, much like those fieldstones, waiting for someone to come along and relish in their character...and to place them in a setting where they will add to the character of humanity.
Last evening I was the recipient of phone calls from two individuals for whom I was able to turn their stone. After rugged starts, each of these young men have moved forward in special ways which are almost beyond belief. Their lives suddenly have purpose and meaning, and I sensed their enthusiasm for where they stood in their journey. Most likely I did not realize how I could make a difference so many years ago, but now I stand in the field and see all those unturned rocks that still need our attention.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Applying Pressure

We live in a time when pressure is plentiful. Politicians applying pressure on citizens, citizens pushing back with higher expectations. Financial institutions under pressure to keep their financial house in order, families feeling the weight in making ends meet. Students under pressure to stay up to date with readings and assignments, teachers under strain to complete the syllabus as it was outlined at the start of the semester. Soldiers feeling pressure to eliminate an enemy that few are able to comprehend, and governments forcing their will upon others. Pressure is plentiful and often destructive in nature, but can also result in the creation of one of the world's most beautiful substances...the diamond! Diamonds are rare, beautiful, and hard, yet they consist of the same material as coal. Apply pressure to coal and you get dust. Compress coal with the hardest of pressures and you get diamonds.
Yes, these times are extremely challenging, and the ride is far from over. There are days when my brain hurts from all the pressure and the body aches from stress of deadlines, finances, and commitments. But in the long run I have the feeling there will be something wonderful waiting at the end....not just for me, but for everyone.