July 6, 2022, 12:00 PM

Franciscan Fractals:

“Like a Stone in Water

The purpose in a man's heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out. Proverbs 20:5

Like St. Francis who spent time in nature, I like to throw flat stones into a cold pond to see how far I can get the stones to skim along the surface. I am at times surprised how many skips I can get the stone to skip. Life often seems like a series of skips from one event to another. The more skips in life, the fuller the satisfaction. That is until the stone sinks. Neither do we stay on the surface of life. We also sink. To believe otherwise is an illusion.

For many people, the Christian life often parallels that of a skipping stone. It begins with baptism, confirmation, church attendance, and then burial (heaven seeps in at this point). Right? However, the mature Christian life may not be a series of skips across a pond. It may be about the journey that a stone makes as it sinks in the water – water that is so deep that there is no bottom.

Imagine yourself as a stone that has stopped skimming the surface of the water, and now sinks deeply into the water. As you descend, you land on a small protrusion, and decide to stop your descent and set up shop. You become comfortable since you believe that you have a true perspective of God, the world, and life.

Then, a traumatic event occurs. You are dislodged from the protrusion where you have set up shop by a wave of love (often called a Dark Night of the Soul). Someone close to you dies, you are diagnosed with a terminal disease, or you lose your job. You are knocked off of the protrusion, and you begin to descend again. This time, as you descend deeper into the water, you realize that it is God's love flowing over you that dislodged you from the little shop that you had set up. At the same time, you realize that God did so for the purpose of allowing you to fall deeper into God’s mysterious, intimate, unconditional, and never-ending love.

The following short video (about 3 minutes) gives us a narrative recap of the stone’s journey by James Finley, a student of Thomas Merton and Christian mystic. He helps us break out of our everyday “surface thinking” about life. The tone of his voice and demeanor exhibits the result of years of contemplation.




Peace and Blessings,

Fr. John


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