Sometimes it seems that my office is an imitation of Indiana Jones’ place. Big stoneware crocks, ancient fossils, trolls, space models, original drawings on old ledger paper done by a native American artists on the Rosebud Indian reservation, antique Japanese Hakata statues, a small olive oil ewer from Bronze Age Israel, and even an old glass and metal peanut dispenser. Nested among all of those are different art prints, and an original Matt Rinard oil given for my 50th birthday, with a special signed picture in chalk on the back. This is indeed my happy place, and I can always find a bit more room for “stuff.” I mean, after all – who needs books?
One item sits on the floor, strangely enough next to my paper shredder. It sat who knows where at my folks’ home for decades, eventually finding its way into a small cardboard box in the closet. It’s a rock – about 7 inches long and 5 inches wide, rounded, with a ridge of sorts cut into the middle. The thing is – it’s heavy. It’s about 12 pounds, and it’s been around for a while. When we were going through the work of cleaning out Mom’s house two years ago, the box with the rock in it showed up actually in the garage, along with literally tons of other stuff. Simply because I remember it being around the house as we grew up, I put the first dibs on it, and none of my other siblings really seemed to care. So I claimed it, put it in the corner of my car’s back seat, and off it went to live in the Dakotas.
I’ve looked at it dozens of times, and I kind of believe it started its journey actually in the Dakotas themselves. The careful carving around the middle is very old, and the entire rock looks almost prehistoric. So, as I did some research about it, I’ve come to the conclusion that it was a native American stone sledgehammer head of some sort. It’s too heavy to be a war hammer to be used in battle, unless you had the arms of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone put together. As I looked as similar stone heads, they were described as more utilitarian than battle ready – ones this size most likely were used to crack open the skulls of bison after a hunt. I’m pretty sure it would do the trick. I have a big sledge hammer in the garage that weighs 10 pounds, so this one even dwarfs that big one. You put it by the wall, because you don’t want it falling off the shelf onto your toes, nor do you want to have your toes meeting it in the dark late at night…
Let me be clear: the rock isn’t for sale. However, like other things in the house, it’s nice to have an honest sense of its worth, so I did some looking around. Now, I’m not an expert in estimating the probable granite carved rock sledge heads in America, but I did try to discover some comparisons at least to ones that are being offered for sale. First rule of estimating value of something is to NOT go on places like eBay, and find something close to what you have, and then look at the offered price and declare your “thing” worth the very same. I’ve told my siblings a number of times that just because someone is asking for the price to sell an item does not mean it’s worth it. Some folks just think their junk is worth a lot of money… of course, if and when you discover that a number of similar items have actually sold in places like antique stores or on line, you then can surmise that your thing may indeed have close to the same value, but don’t get carried away. Case in point: Beanie Babies, which in the late 1990s were “worth” tens or hundreds of dollars – until people moved on to another fad, and now, 20 years later, you have people with bin after bin of collectibles in their basement, with hopes that maybe great-grandchildren might want to play with them in 50 years.
So, like I said, on a whim I decided to compare some of the prices being offered for rocks with carved centers. I have to admit that I was surprised. Sledge heads like my big rock, but which were half the size and half the weight, were selling in a variety of places for over $500. That’s a lot for a rock, if you ask me. Still, people collect most everything out there…
More important and profound comes to mind as I think about who created such a tool in the first place. Who sat with this rock, and used other ones to carefully chip and smooth away a groove, that then could be attached to a strong branch from a tree, tied with rawhide and then used to do whatever they needed it to do. How was it lost? Who lost it? Did Cousin Frank borrow it, and broke the handle and just left it on the prairie? Then, who found it in the field one day, and brought it home for doorstop? Finally, how did my folks happen across it, find it interesting and gather it up and bring it home to further fill their house with stuff?
Everything we see has a history or even a legend. Of course, when we live accidentally, we often will ignore or overlook items that otherwise have value or an important story. But now and then, when we are intentional about what we are trying to accomplish, we will discover treasures and keepsakes that are worth far more than we ever dreamed – not to sell, but to enjoy and marvel after, and think about. An important part of it all, of course, is to make sure that others hear the story, or read the story, and therefore understand the significance of what might otherwise be just a rock in the field. Life should always be interesting, and when it is significant, we open the door to a joyful life as well.
Enjoy the rocks in your life today. I’ll try not to stub my toe…
Word for the day: fiddlesticks. Pronounced FID-ul-stiks. Most likely, if you are of a certain age and generation, you will have used this word. Often paired with “Oh Fiddlesticks!” it has always meant something or some action that is trivial, or just an annoyance, or not worth focusing on. Usually, we deny someone the opportunity to say what they think is significant, although sometimes it’s used when we make a mistake: “oh Fiddlesticks! Was that supposed to be only a teaspoon of salt, and I added a tablespoon instead?”
The origin is of course the plural of “fiddlestick,” which is the bow used to play either a violin or fiddle. Now, there is nothing much expressive about saying, “Oh bow!” It used to be that mild curse of “fiddlestick’s end!” You see, a fiddlestick, or a bow, ends at a point, with nothing there – any flourish you would give to a violin bow would be where you held it, not at the end. So, fiddlestick’s end meant something that was worth nothing, nor worth considering, which then became, as we always to with words, shortened to Fiddlesticks. It’s just as good as a curse word to let off steam, but is still a gentler way of expressing your disgust about something…
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.