May 13, 2014

Stone Memories


It was Memorial Day when I sat beside the flowing river, canoes passing, laughter echoing off rock bluffs as oars cut the flow of a thousand hidden springs. 

The boats swooped down past the scrub trees rooted near a boulder. They navigated around the jutting rock and slid effortlessly into a deep teal pool. The canoes, red and green, rested their oars, and their laughter, hushed like they had arrived at a cathedral’s altar.

Soon, all that remained were the echoes of their presence.

Alone. I sat beside the gurgling water, the bend that hums its hapless notes in the slow afternoon.

The boys waded under the concrete bridge, upstream, throwing lines over and over and over. Occasionally, they’d pull up a brown and throw it back.

I sat watching until I was bored, looked for fossils, and built a cairn, then another.

I forgot about the sky.

Hunting for the flat rocks, I built from largest to smallest like misshapen turrets on a caveman’s castle, a tiny city hugging the shore of a mighty river that feeds the sea.

The cairns marked no sea passage, except the passage of time, on a holiday while boys cast lines and cars rumbled over the bridge and never paid them no mind.

A cairn is a precarious monument to memories. Balanced on moving earth, held by gravity, they bear down and hold on for a while.

Build your cairn on a high hill away from the river. The rainy season is coming and no amount of weight can hold the shaky tower against the flow that comes after the thunderstorm.

Build carefully on high over time. Let the rock settle with its memories. One by one they are placed, each memory wedged upon another. It is not the parts that build the memory. It’s the whole that matters, the big picture, not the small.

New stones are being wedged upon the foundation stone, pieced in my monument to life, my unique memorial stone. Three graduations and a stem cell transplant make me grateful the Rock is wide and deep and high and long.

With a steady hand, I place what matters, stone upon stone. Chuck the meaningless into the river’s silty depths. Let the weight of sin, and hurt, of lost dreams, and grim expectations be swallowed up by the river.

The higher the cairn the less it holds. Contemplate before you build.

Life is too short to be reckless with your memories.

Build your cairn and let the river have the rest.

Memories serve eternity’s purpose. Our memories hold us up during the dark nights of waiting. We can’t be watchman without a wall to sit up on. Eternity is on the horizon.

The river is the resting place, a graveyard to the memories of generation after vaporous generation building cairns and watching boys throw lines.

Someday, the echoes around the bend will become my own.

And I will leave behind the cairn and the river.

Linking with Jennifer (#TellHisStory) and Emily (Imperfect Prose
and Holley (Coffee for Your Heart Encouragement Challenge)

And Making Manifest during May with Sandra Heska King


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