Someone asked me once, “Why do you stack rocks?” I stack stones seven reasons: Guidance, Therapy, Balance, Plan, Memorial, Freedom, and Hope for the Future.
I can thank my wife, Susanne, for introducing me to stacking rocks. When we first met, twenty-nine years ago, we hiked in Northern Michigan and I saw stacks of rocks on trailheads in the woods. I asked her, “What do those stones mean?” She explained that rangers and hikers alike used stacks of rocks to give guidance to those who are lost to find their way. I tried my hand at stacking rocks and I was hooked! In the years following I stacked rocks wherever I went.
In my life as I collect experiences that are part of my story I can name God’s hand in my story and it gives me direction towards a relationship with Him and I am no longer lost.
I also stack rocks for therapy. In our busy, fast-paced world we need to slow down and find moments of silence and solitude that point our hearts to communion with God.
I find it relaxing and therapeutic to walk or hike to a beautiful place and find rocks and stack them. I find it calming to practice “active rest in solitude.”
When looking for guidance and practicing active therapy, I carefully choose stones that fit together and build on one another. The stones that fit together must have balance to be complete. This principle of balance reminds me that in my life I also must have balance. I must carefully select how best to use my time as I balance God, family, job and free time.
The art of stacking rocks requires a plan to achieve balance and height. I must choose the larger, load-bearing rocks to be the foundation. I then must look at each shape of each rock fitting the shapes together and using smaller pieces the higher I get.
This reminds me that as I ask God for guidance and balance in my life, I must have a plan. I begin with TOTAL SURRENDER then do things on purpose. I must take that largest life issues and tackle them first. As God sorts out my mess the building blocks of my life gradually get smaller and the success builds higher.
In Joshua 4-5 when God led Israel out of the wilderness into the Promised Land, He miraculously parted the Jordan River so the Hebrew people could walk on dry land. Joshua instructed each of the twelve tribes to carry a stone from the middle of the Jordan River and carry them till they camped for the night. At the end of the day when they stopped, Joshua then stacked the stones as a memorial of God’s amazing power of deliverance.
When I get the chance to stack rocks, I am usually on a hike by a lake, by the ocean, or somewhere beautiful in creation. As I choose the building blocks, I begin to talk to God and with each stone remembering how God worked in amazing ways in my life. I stack stones to as a memorial to the times in my life when God’s power delivered me. It reminds me of God’s amazing love and grace. As I choose stones I remember a pivotal life experience and name the stone. As the stack grows higher, the memorial of God’s love grows greater. It is so awesome!
Joshua told the Israelites that future generations would ask, “What do these stones mean?” The answer would point to God’s power and amazing grace that gave freedom. Freedom from slavery, freedom from the consequences of disobedience and wandering around in the wilderness and freedom to be the chosen people of God.
The place where the memorial stones were stacked was referred to as Givat Ha'aralot, but Joshua called the place Gilgal because, in his words, "today I have removed (galoti) the shame of Egypt from upon you.
Hope for the Future
To me stacking stones gives me Guidance and reminds me that God pursues me with a love relationship that is real and personal. Finding time for silence and Sabbath to commune with God is Therapy as I recall the wonder of God. This relaxing discipline demands Balance in my life with God, family, work and free time. It also demands a Plan to surrender to God and build ON PURPOSE. Each stone is a Memorial to God’s love and grace. The wonderful outcome with this process is Freedom! God guides, loves, heals, and gives freedom to our lives through the sacrifice of Jesus and the work of Holy Spirit. God then removes shame from the past and hope for the future.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
Let’s go stack some stones!