The Stone of Witness

Joshua said to all the people, 

“See, this stone shall be a witness against us; 

for it has heard all the words of the Lord that he spoke to us…” – Joshua 24:27a

This pale stone from St. Columba’s Bay
had lain beneath pilgrim feet for a thousand years before
singing its way to my notice; its delicate web of
fine green tracings draws the eye into the stone, its heft
surprising for a marble-cool thumbprint. Glossy
and silky to the touch, it bears witness

to the caress of tides and the melancholy
wandering of saints. What prayers has it heard
from all who have passed this way—what prayers
can I whisper to it as it slides between my fingers?

Two billion years it tumbled
to the ebb and flow of windswept tide.
From its holy home it now resides
in my pocket most days, a traveler and thus a stranger,
honed by the caress of the sea.

And now I recognize the toddler wisdom
in filling one’s pockets
with treasures from the ground: they witness
to the loving embrace of this Earth
carrying us tenderly around the Sun, grounding us
in wonder and awe, bearing testimony
to the holiness arching up beneath our feet.

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