Friday, September 23, 2005
On the far eastern coast of Aruba, leaning stubbornly against crashing brutal Atlantic surf, lies Wishing Stone Beach. An atypical landscape, this part of the island. Rocky, rugged and stoic. Rather than sand, this stretch of the coastline appears to be constructed of lumpy stalagmites. Upon closer examination, it’s discovered they are not solid pillars, but carefully balanced columns of stones. Smooth, oval stones, shaped by the ages and constant flogging at the hand of the elements. Stones in shades of pale plum and gunmetal and caramel. And as far as the eye can see in either direction – thousands of little columns line the shore.
You may think their placement is way too deliberate to be by nature – and you would be correct. Here is observed an old island tradition, where visitor and resident alike come to offer three sacred wishes. One for health, one for wealth, and one for happiness. The wisher is to select one stone to represent each wish, and from only those not already engaged in a column - Only the elements are acceptable disassemblers of any of the previously constructed piles. The wisher is to meditate on their wishes as they stack their three stones atop of one another. They then leave their wish-encapsulating stones there by the shore.
In February 1999, I visited Wishing Stone Beach, and added my wishing stones to the multitude. I remember the day – the smell of rain in the air – the ocean wind whipping my hair against my cheeks – the tails of my shirt lapping behind me. I remember my wishes. They were indeed answered, but not in ways I’d expected. God has a funny way of doing things like that.
I’m sure that by this time, my column has succumbed to collapse, and my stones so carefully selected and wished over have gone on to become pieces of someone else’s altar – maybe several - just as what we strive for our lives to become is built up and torn down and restructured by forces beyond our control, and in the process we become a part of one another.
Lovers and the lost. The ambitious and the broken. The naive. The jaded. Newlyweds. Expectant parents. Clean-slaters. Children. The aged. Perhaps even a young girl from Alabama, while celebrating her new life and possibilities - and later her mother, weary and pallid from searching for her. How many have come to this spot and offered their wishes, their prayers to the Heavens and have symbolically left them there to be tended? Only our Heavenly Father knows, and He has heard every one.
We must still the racket around us to recognize His answers, and still ourselves to accept them.