Magic Rocks or Living Stones

Psalm 146, 147 (Morning)

Psalm 111, 112, 113 (Evening)

Isaiah 43:8-13

1 Peter 2:2-10

John 14:1-7

1 Peter 2:2-10: Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in scripture: “See, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” To you then who believe, he is precious; but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the very head of the corner,” and “A stone that makes them stumble, and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Would you believe they still make “Magic Rocks?” I found that out a few weeks ago when one of my former medical students was discussing buying some for his kids.

I found myself suddenly itching to give advice about that.

You see, at least for me, my experience with Magic Rocks best fell in the category “Things you order from the comic book are never as good as the ad says they are.” I think I went through several sets before I ever got it right.

The first set, I knew the directions said to only use half the rocks in the first growing period–but of course, my little kid mind figured, “More is better–and I’m in a hurry. I want to see the Magic Rocks NOW.” Well, using all the rocks makes “Magic Colored Sludge.”

The next set, I wondered, “Why do the instructions say “Don’t place the rocks near the edge of the little tank? Well, I think I’m going to put them there to see what happens.” (Answer: Magic Fuzz that grows up the side of the tank wall and then you can’t see the two or three rocks you actually DID place correctly through the fuzzy magenta and purple crystalline haze.)

The next several sets I did exactly as the directions said…well, except the “don’t move or jostle the tank while the rocks are growing,” part. Well, turns out the growing Magic Rocks are a little on the delicate side. I think it’s safe to say no one would ever have accused me of being a “delicate” sort of child.

Even when I finally did everything right, a half dozen or so sets of Magic Rocks and an empty piggy bank after several weeks, I realized they were so delicate, all a person could do was sit and look at them. Picking up the tank to show someone only resulted in broken Magic Rocks. Over time, I had a little tank of Magic Rocks that was quite attractive…but what good was it?

So, as you can imagine, I wanted to tell my former student, “Don’t waste your money on this one! Your kid’s going to be really disappointed!” But I didn’t–because, you see, as I recalled these stories about my own experience with Magic Rocks, I realized these were actually good lessons for a child to have–that some things have to be treated with care, some things a person can’t skirt the directions, and some things we imagine don’t always pan out to be the great thing we thought it would be. Also, I realized this might not be about the Magic Rocks at all. Maybe this is more about the relationship between parent and child than it is about growing Magic Rocks perfectly. So I bit my fingers and refrained from all my “great advice.”

Well, you know, Living Stones seem like a lot better deal. Like the Magic Rocks, they do take time to develop…but unlike Magic Rocks, perfection at following instructions is not required to make beautiful Living Stones. In fact, it can all be done horribly wrong for a long time until a person does the one right thing–let God be the growing solution.

Better yet, when a Living Stone is grown, leaving it sit on top of the bookshelf undisturbed to be admired is a mistake. Living Stones are meant to be out in the world, broken tops and all–because they are at their most prolific when they become the magic solution for growing other Living Stones–and the “growth phase” never stops. Sure, there may be times that growth feels stagnant. There may be times they are jostled a little too hard and break–but left in the milleu of the holy growing solution, they will grow again and again, and their growth influences the growth of the Living Stones around them.

It’s also possible that the point may not be the appearance of the stones themselves, but about the relationship with the father. Imagine that.

As we live in the fullness of this Easter season, let’s ask ourselves: Where are the places we’ve been too busy trying to grow beautiful but useless Magic Rocks, when we should be trusting in God’s ability to make Living Stones?

Maria Evans, a surgical pathologist from Kirksville, MO, writes about the obscurities of life, medicine, faith, and the Episcopal Church on her blog, Kirkepiscatoid

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