>Tumbling Stones

>Remember this?
This is a rock tumbler, seeing it is like a blast from my past.
My eldest brother is a gemologist, and as a boy, we had one of these babies grinding away in my dad’s workshop (a large-closet size room off the carport) for many a day.
It was kind of fascinating to watch him go out in the desert, hunting for stones, and come back with a pocketful. He would sort them and then put some paste of some sort in the tub and flip the switch. Then it would turn and turn and turn, slowly but surely. It was kind of loud, sometimes kind of smelly, often in the way.
I always wished it would hurry up and finish (yup, impatient even way back when).

Finally, he would decide it had turned enough and he would flip the off switch. The bin would come to a halt and he would open it up and reach inside. I always tried to be right there when he did. He would pull out the same stones and they were smooth, then he would polish them and they would be like some kind of cool rugged jewels.
It was a kind of magic for a kid. It was just cool.

I lay in bed this morning, awake again at three a.m. with Gabey. He had gone back to sleep next to me, but I could not. And I started thinking about the various drama we’ve been having with the kids: nothing big, just the usual fussing here and there and kids fretting about turf and things and how come they do this and why can’t they be like that sort of things. You know, the sibling stuff, standard issue…..to an exponential factor since we have a large family.

And I think it was Kimberly Hahn who I heard once say that having family is a way to rub off your sharp edges. And I remembered David’s rock tumbler.

That’s what having a big family is like. A rock tumbler.
We are tumbling stones.

We are given to each other to rub off all our sharp edges, to smooth each other out. It’s often loud, a lot messy, sometimes stinky, and frequently in the way of one of our individual desires. It’s not always easy and all that bumping and banging can hurt a bit here and there.
And yet, it is a cool thing, to be able to have each other to work away those rough bits. To learn to withstand the jagged edges of the one who scrapes across you, once again.
To get mad and frustrated and even hurt, but to learn to soothe and be soothed, to endure and withstand….to forgive and forget and move on.
It is this tumbling, this smoothing of our rugged jagged stony hearts and natures that is what we do best for each other. And what, as a family, as a large family in particular, we can do like no one else in the world. It is hard sometimes. It can hurt, frustrate, scrape and chip. But in the end, you end up with something all new again…..transformed, you could say.You end up with jewels. All different. Each unique. None just quite like the other, different size, shape, color, composition…some with streaks, some with glints of glitter.

But you end up a family, each being polished into their most true selves.
No wonder I was so fascinated with his rock tumbler, ultimately, I was to have my own.

>Feast Day: St. Francis de Sales

>It is the feast of St. Francis de Sales!

This saint, this man has been deemed one of the Doctors of the Church, meaning one who’s writings and ideas are formational; the depth and understanding of their faith and the orthodoxy of their theology is held in highest esteem.

His book, “Introduction to the Devout Life” is a classic and a challenge – to my way of life and thinking and being. It humbles me: when I read (or reread) it, I tend to hang my head and think, “dang, right, gee whiz….oh, very good, man!” (It is initially difficult to get past his literary device of addessing his writing to “Philothea” {student} but once you do, you’re good to go/read/soak it in.) I recommend it to anyone, it’s very well worth the effort.

This saint is one of my favorite writers and a gentle soul. He was known for his gentle kind ways
and his simple clear explanations. He was great friends with another saint I love, St. Jane de Chantal. He taught her to be a saint ‘where she was’, in her station in life….she didn’t have to go be a desert hermit or do heroic acts, but rather quietly live a holy life, where she was (which is of course, SO much easier said than done!).

Although he earned degrees in both law and theology, he realized he had a vocation to the priesthood and ultmately even became Bishop of Geneva. He is the patron of writers and journalists, so he is also a timely saint, in this era of crazy media and bloggers all taking up their own little mini journals…like me. This prayer below, from his Treatise on the Love of God, shows why he is so good, and why I hang my head and see, once again, just how far I have to go. sigh.

Prayer of Dedication by St. Francis de Sales

Lord, I am yours, and I must belong to no one but you. My soul is yours, and must live only by you. My will is yours, and must love only for you. I must love you as my first cause, since I am from you. I must love you as my end and rest, since I am for you. I must love you more than my own being, since my being subsists by you. I must love you more than myself, since I am all yours and all in you. Amen.

St. Francis de Sales, pray for us!