If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine!
My friend Rachel has a rock polisher, and as you may recall, for a while we had an overabundance of rocks in our driveway. It seemed like a natural fit. We knew that polishing wasn’t exactly a viable way of disposing of a driveway full of drain rock, but the supply did give us lots of choices, and it made the pile feel useful until we got rid of it.
When I asked Rachel if we could use her rock polisher, she said, “Sure, it’ll take a month,” and I think I managed to hide my astonishment when I replied, “OK!” I had envisioned, oh, a couple hours’ worth of work, maybe rubbing the rocks with some kind of special sandpaper or something.
What I didn’t realize is that rock polishing is essentially speeded-up erosion. Of course, speeded-up is in the eye of the beholder: Instead of taking thousands of years to smooth out a rock, it took about 6 weeks.
Turns out you pick your rocks, wash them well, and then put them in this cylindrical rubber container, the tumbler, along with water and some special rock-polishing powder. Then you place the tumbler horizontally on a roller, and let it roll for a week. The next week, you take the rocks out, wash away that first powder slurry, and then put the rocks back in with more water and a slightly finer powder, and roll it for another week. You repeat this four times. At the end, you have smooth, shiny rocks.
I found it fascinating to watch the transformation from ho-hum drain rock, which we plucked almost at random out of a huge pile of similar stones, into something unique and beautiful. At the same time, it didn’t inherently change the nature of the rocks: Granite remained granite, quartz remained quartz. Metamorphic rock didn’t change into sedimentary rock.
No, the rocks’ basic nature remained the same, but the polishing brought out facets of that nature that remained hidden in the unpolished form. One rock revealed itself to have beautiful gold flecks in it, which you can only see at certain angles. Many of them had a variety of similar shades folded and woven together that make them fascinating to look at. Others remained plain to look at, but took on an exceptionally pleasing shape and texture.
Naturally, as Rachel and I rinsed and dried the polished rocks, we talked about the philosophical implications. We’re the rocks, which God has picked for some reason. He sees something in us, something beneath our dirty dull exteriors. Life is the polisher, and all the things that happen in life is the polishing material. This kind of transformation doesn’t take place quickly, or easily. One of the rocks we put in came out as two smaller rocks, broken apart by the tumbling. It took time, patience, and effort to reveal the depth and beauty in the rocks.
I hope that one day I, too, will come from the tumbler with my hidden beauty revealed. Until then, it’s back to the tumbler.