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As a child, one of the joys was heading to the stream near my grandparent’s home and skipping flat stones across the ‘creek’. That activity, often done in solitude, focused all of my attention on finding a suitably flat stone and using the proper throwing motion to cause the stone to skip along the surface of the water.

I am fascinated with photographs of flat stones stacked one on top of the other.

Although I have never come across such a stack, I find that even photographs of these creations point to the same attention, solitude and silence that I experienced as a child on the shores of Duck Creek.

Beaches are where you will most often come across someone’s altar of stacked stones.

It is quite prevalent in the Pacific Northwest. Susie Lyn Jacobs is a writer living in Cannon Beach, Oregon. She said, “I’ll find 5 or 6 stones, and stack them as I silently hold each one in prayer, for a specific person or for protection in a specific instance. It’s comforting and brings me a measure of peace because I must focus and be mindful of what I’m doing.” Although she used flat stones in a decidedly different way than I did as a child, both of our efforts brought us to a place of silence.

Fr. John Main wrote, “The quality that everyone of us needs most urgently is silence. We simply must learn how to be silent and how to remain in silence. Once you enter that silence, once you open your heart to that unpredictable and incomparable experience, you will find that each of us can only be the person we are called to be if we allow that silence to develop in our hearts.”

At the time, I didn’t realize that skipping stones was anything more than a summer day’s activity. I now realize that ‘skipping stones’ allowed me to enter in to a time of sacred silence. My attention was focussed only on finding that next flat stone and counting the number of skips as it glided over the gently flowing stream. In Christian Meditation, I have found that with all of my attention focussed on the mantra I achieve that same deep attentive silence.

Fr. John continued, “Make no mistake about it, the silence that each of us is summoned to enter is the eternal silence of God. This is the silence that each of us can find in our own hearts. Discovering it will lead you to understand that silence is itself the medium of perfect communication. It is in silence that we communicate at depth and with the truth of wholeness.”

Next time I’m around some flat stones I think I’ll build an altar. In that silent creative effort, I will discover the silence that leads us to God.

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