The Meaning of Stones

February 3, 2023

“In the future your children will ask, ‘What do these stones mean?’“ ~ Joshua 4:21 NLT

Perhaps you’ve observed stone cairns along the side of a road. At some point in time a person or persons stacked stone for a purpose, to mark the place where someone is buried, or to mark the place along a road where a person died, or to serve as a directional marker. Sometimes there is no discernible reason, other than the whim or desire of the person who did the stacking.

Such cairns have been built since prehistoric times in Eurasia, including in the Holy Land. Following the exodus of the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt and 40 years in the wilderness, the Israelites crossed the Jordan River whose waters had stopped for their passage. Joshua commanded the people to take 12 boulders from the river bed and stack them on the shore as a reminder to future generations of the miraculous crossing.

I came across one such cairn stacked on lava rocks in the surf. I am sure their stacker had a reason, unknown to anyone else. I am grateful to the unknown builder. It took time, and patience, and if the tide was up, some courage to brave the surf, and a giving up to the elements and waves.

Near Wailea, Maui

I want to be a cairn builder, taking the time to collect, gather, and stack to mark moments. I want to have the patience necessary to find balance, and the courage to brave waves. I want to open my hands to let go, surrendering what is not mine to begin with to the One who holds all things together. That is my prayer. Maybe it might be your prayer as well. ~ Anne

PS. Joshua also commanded the Hebrews to take 12 boulders from the land to replace the original ones from the river bed. Why? Some sort of scouting principle to leave no trace? No one knows. What do you imagine was the reason?

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