By Rev. Jose Ballester, UUA Board Liaison, Journey Toward Wholeness Transformation Committee.
Russell was an amateur geologist, paleontologist, and professional teacher. He took his young charges on an overnight field trip. While sitting around the campfire, he brought out a bag, took out five rocks, and held up a round, grapefruit-size rock. "This rock," he began explaining, "looks ordinary on the outside. But inside there is hidden beauty."
He opened the two halves of the rock to reveal all the purple crystals inside. He then picked up another rock of equal size and opened it to reveal a fossil inside. "This is the fossil of a trilobite," Russell explained. "It was a sea creature that lived millions of years ago. All that remains is this impression of him. Minerals seeped into the mud that held his body, and this is all that remains."
Next, he picked up something that looked like a small, wooden object and said, "This branch is another fossil that looks like wood, but it really is a rock. And as we know, wood burns, but not rocks."
Russell threw the rock that looked like a branch into the fire; it did nothing. He then took out a flat, palm-sized rock and said, "Now watch closely." He threw the flat rock into the fire, and it soon began burning. "That rock is called 'oil shale' and has been used for fuel for hundreds of years."
He then began our lesson in earnest. "People can be as complex as these rocks. Too often all you see is a dull, rough exterior and never suspect there is beauty inside in the form of a crystal or a fossil. Sometimes people look like something else and behave in unexpected ways. And here is the true lesson from the rocks."
He picked up a round, black stone from a water-filled container.
"I found this stone earlier today in the stream. As you can see, the water has rounded the rock, and the minerals have turned it black." He then hit the stone with a hammer and it broke in two. "You can also see that the outside is still wet, and the water has made it round and dark, but the inside is still dry and gray. A human heart—like a stone—can be shaped by outside forces, but its inside remains unchanged. Over time, this stone will be further reduced, perhaps becoming a grain of sand that will find its way into an oyster and become a pearl. You never know what a human heart will become over time, so never lose hope in its potential."
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Last updated on Friday, July 20, 2012.
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