Cold blasts and heavy rocks

>> Thursday, January 21, 2010

I'm alright with winter. I actually find it invigorating. The cold blast on my face, the frigid wind forcing itself right through my layers, biting the skin beneath.

Walking in the coldest of colds energizes me like nothing else. I love it; the work of it, the bite, the blast, that visible puff of breath -reminding me I'm still alive.

Last night I left the car parked and hoofed it from one stop to the next. Cold on my face, body warm in my coat, I felt it --that things are gonna be alright.

The stories on my heart sit heavy and dense, a weight on my chest, like a wet pack of snow. But these stories aren't only mine to share, so I hold them close for now, turning them over in my hands, looking close and rubbing fingers over textures. I hide them away, letting go but then reaching for them again, tightening my grip, making sense of what I feel.

I love Lake Michigan in the wintertime. There's a different energy to the crashing and breaking, to the winter sky. My last visit home, I stood on the shore alone, letting it blast right through me. It came at me hard, hitting all of my senses. The roar of the wind, the smell of the lake, the bite of the air, the sight of those waves, that sky.

The clouds stretched like cotton, drawn out into wisps so thin, layer over layer, back as far as the horizon, as high above as I could see. And where those clouds met water, there was no flat line, no edge of the earth. Those breaking waves rolled back through the deep, as far as the eye could carry, to a jagged line where waves met clouds stretched thin.

I stood there, alone. Prayers seeping out my skin, not having to say a word because the power on that rocky shore blasted those cries to God right out my pores, leaving me red faced and breathless, wind and water raging in my ears, standing amid the stones.

I walk around with rocks in my pockets. It's been almost a year, but I can't bring myself to empty them.

Collecting them one by one, layered against the winter wind, we walked the shore gathering rocks, tucking them into coat pockets, the weight a heavy reminder of how much we choose to carry with us on our way.

And later, on our drive back home when the top of the luggage box blew off on the highway, flying out behind me and crashing down on the road in front of semis and cars cruising at seventy, our coats stayed put in that box atop the car. They didn't fly out, shredding beneath tires. They were weighed down, held in place by the rocks in our pockets.

Sometimes these burdens we carry can save us. At least that's what I choose to believe -- that we walk around, heaviness hidden in our pockets, and the weight may just slow us down or hold us in one place long enough to think, to feel, or see, or hear, or experience whatever it is that in the long run moves us a little closer to making it out of here alright. That there's a saving grace in having rocks in your pockets, of planting feet on stones on a windy day, the blast of winter air knocking the prayers right out of you; in a red face and a warm heart and a walk so cold it clears your head.

I'm alright with winter. It's invigorating, blasting through my layers and biting my skin.


Five Star Friday

This post featured on Five Star Friday Edition #88. Thanks for the honor.


Erin January 21, 2010 at 7:39 PM  

You've made me want to call off work and go stand on the beach tomorrow. I think I need to do this'd be good for my soul.

Mary January 21, 2010 at 8:51 PM  

There is nothing like God speaking through nature. It is a powerful meeting of souls. Absolutely beautiful imagery.

Terresa January 22, 2010 at 12:09 AM  

Thought provoking post. Your words leap off the page and I feel as if you're sharing a part of your heart right here with us.

Deb January 22, 2010 at 6:17 AM  

i can tell you that i would have most certainly flown out of the luggage rack years ago, blowing whichever way the wind would take me, never to land, never to settle, never to learn and grow, if it weren't for the rocks in my pockets. you are on to something.

Teacher Mommy January 22, 2010 at 6:37 AM  

Beautiful. And you're making me think about a few things...

katdish January 22, 2010 at 8:45 AM  

Agh! Beautiful and timely. Thanks.

Queen January 22, 2010 at 8:47 AM  

So beautiful and refreshing. Makes me almost want to go for a brisk, 18 degree's outside, walk. Almost. ;)

Becky January 22, 2010 at 8:50 AM  

Beautiful. Maybe I need to stop and smell the snow instead of willing January to just BE OVER.

Adventures In Babywearing January 22, 2010 at 8:54 AM  


Many times I had people ask me "how did you not fall apart?" "how did you get through that?" and I usually respond that I didn't have a choice.

But maybe it was the rocks, the heaviness, that was the anchor that kept me from blowing away (like I wanted to.)


Corinne January 22, 2010 at 9:20 AM  

I always feel at home listening to waves. Always. We live 15 minutes away from the coast, and haven't been since the summer - how sad is that? I think I might pop by and sit by the rocks tomorrow. Clear my head. I'm rambling, I'm feeling so heavy and needed to read this. Thank you! (way to make your post about me ;) )

Boy Crazy January 22, 2010 at 9:26 AM  

@Corinne (and everyone else, for that matter)-- I like it when you make it about you. That's why I write it, because I know it's a universal, something that we all deal with or relate to, on our own terms, through our own stories, right?

Thanks for reading and for chiming in. I get so much out of it.

Jo@Mylestones January 22, 2010 at 11:24 AM  

Beautiful, my friend. The shore is where God shouts to me. In every season. And I love the rocks/heaviness analogy. You weave it all together so perfectly.
I hope someday to read the stories that are half yours, the ones you are still turning around like stones.

emma January 22, 2010 at 12:38 PM  

So beautiful and haunting. Thank you for sharing your communing with nature. It's reminded me I must do the same.

Lindsey January 22, 2010 at 12:54 PM  

Oh, there are stories on my heart too, weighing like a stone - thank you for the image, it's absolutely perfect and beautiful.

Schmutzie January 22, 2010 at 1:18 PM  

This weblog is being featured on Five Star Friday -

amanda January 22, 2010 at 1:24 PM  

man you really are good at this. making me think. painting pictures with your words.

can i tell you a secret? i am glad i didn't "know" this side of you before that lovely weekend in madison. i would have been in total awe and never summoned the courage to talk to you.

lucky me.

Pamela January 22, 2010 at 2:14 PM  

When I saw that photo of the lake with the snow and the wicked wild waves, I shivered.

Better you than me. More power to you. I'll keep my Florida beaches doll!

Lee of MWOB January 22, 2010 at 2:30 PM  

Oh dude. Your writing floors me. It's just beautiful.

And why didn't you write this before I came to Madison? I needed a new perspective on the cold.
"The work of it..." I like that.

And this?
"That there's a saving grace in having rocks in your pockets, of planting feet on stones on a windy day, the blast of winter air knocking the prayers right out of you; in a red face and a warm heart and a walk so cold it clears your head."

I just love it.

I think I want to take a writing class. From you. :-)

Brianna January 22, 2010 at 2:41 PM  

YES! I get this. I have a lot of rocks in my pockets and I think, I hope it's made me stronger, not so easily tossed by the wind and waves.

Thank you for your beautiful words.


love January 22, 2010 at 8:37 PM  

um, yes.

beautiful. and truth. such truth in this.

thank you.

Deidra January 23, 2010 at 9:41 AM  

I love the prayers seeping out of your skin. I feel like that. I don't always need to say it...sometimes it just oozes.

Jennifer Fink January 23, 2010 at 12:07 PM  

You've won a Lemonande Stand Award! The award recognizes a grateful heart and a positive attitude -- and, in your case, absolutely divine writing.


Laura January 23, 2010 at 6:36 PM  

Beautifully expressed.

And so true. Burdens can be blessings.

natalie January 23, 2010 at 11:32 PM  

Now I want to go stand on Lake Michigan, too.

And have my cries pulled through my pores like spiritual Biore strips.

Nancy January 24, 2010 at 12:55 PM  

Beautiful, Elizabeth. Clear and true.

deb January 26, 2010 at 2:02 PM  

I'm back to reread this. It's stunning.
Especially because I seek peace outside, my wilderness, needing His.
loved this, Elizabeth. Thank you for sharing it.

Heather of the EO January 27, 2010 at 12:48 PM  

Oh lady. I'm kind of stunned speechless. You know how timely this is for me. And you know I love how you think and I love your heart.

Thank you.

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