"Oh, no! Where did the rock go?" I looked out a window of our house and felt an impending sense of doom.
Quite a few years ago someone we'd hired to do yard work had found an interestingly shaped angular rock about 18 inches tall (our landscaping has lots of rocks). He set up upright on a larger rock, then balanced a small rock on the tip of its decidedly sharp end.
Ever since, I'd carefully replaced the small rock when deer, our dog, strong wind, or some other force dislodged it. But I'd never worried about the larger angular rock.
Until it disappeared.
Well, not really. It was still there. Just in several pieces. The two guys who do our weekly yard maintenance had come on Monday. They'd focused on leaf/debris blowing, since our grass is barely growing in this unusually hot summer.
(July was the hottest month ever in Salem, Oregon, going all the way back to the late 1800s when temperature records began to be kept. Which shows global warming is happening, and more intensely than expected.)
The guys must have knocked over the angular rock, shattering it on the large rock it was sitting on. When I saw the pieces I felt a strange sense of loss. Sure, it was just a shattered rock. But i really liked it!
Calming down a bit, I began to realize that all was not lost. The rock was still there. Just in pieces. I decided to see if the pieces could form a replacement balance rock. They could, even though the pieces were much smaller than the rock I'd come to love.
The new main rock was a piece of the old rock that shared its basic shape. The original balancing rock fit nicely on top of it. The rock piece below had a great shape, but I hadn't figured out to use it yet.
Some additional reflecting turned my rock thoughts in a more philosophical direction.
Life is full of breaking. Broken dreams. Broken relationships. Broken jobs. Broken health. Broken beliefs, religious, political, or otherwise. Broken all kinds of stuff. It's natural to feel bad when we see that part of our life has been shattered.
Hey, we liked our life as it was! Just as I liked the old balance rocks as they were. Thing is, though, we can always do our best to pick up the pieces of our broken life and refashion them into something new.
Often this isn't easy. It takes time. But usually a new life comes into being that can be almost as satisfying as our old life. Maybe more satisfying.
I had the bright idea of taking two shattered rock pieces into my office to see if they'd fit in a bonsai planting. I never trim the bonsai, but I water and fertilize it once a week. Amazingly, I've had the bonsai for about three years and haven't managed to kill it yet -- something I used to regularly do with house plants in my younger days.
This afternoon I wandered around our yard looking for a larger rock to replace the one that had shattered. I was OK with the smaller pieces, but they were much smaller than the rock I'd gotten used to looking at whenever I walked by.
I found one half buried in dirt. It's a pretty good replacement for Shattered Rock. When it starts raining again, the dirt should wash off.
And I found a way to use the interesting looking piece, along with two other pieces of Shattered Rock.
Yes, it's much easier to restore a broken balancing rock than to fix broken pieces of a life.
I'm just using Shattered Rock as a metaphor of sorts to remind me, and whoever reads this blog post, that even though it can be really disturbing to have some seemingly solid part of our life fall apart, frequently what replaces that broken part can turn out to be better than the original.
Or at least not much worse.