Today I have a “story” that I need to share that has transpired over the last few weeks. I hope you have a few moments to read.
In mid-November I had returned home from Israel where I had been a volunteer cooking for groups (another story . . . another time). I had only been home for a few days and a friend contacted me. Actually Jack and I became friends through one of his daughters, Jessica, and my daughter Hannah who have been buddies since they were like in 3rd grade, now they are in their early 20’s. Jack said he had something that he wanted to give me.
Jack arrived at my store, Bernice’s Tea & Spice in downtown Mooresville. We greeted one another and he asked me to come and see what he had as he was cleaning out his garage in preparation to move. I was a bit taken back when I saw the container after container of “message stones” and asked where he had gotten them.
Jack has a heart of gold and is part of the fund-raising committee for The Dove House, a Children’s Advocacy Center located in Statesville, NC that serves child victims of sexual abuse and their non-offending family members. He told me that a man had donated the stones for one of their fund-raising events and these were “leftover” and asked if I could use them.
As I picked a few of them up I remembered something I had done a number of years ago on one of my trips to Israel. I had designed a “Shalom, Shalom” message stone and gave out a couple hundred in the Jerusalem March and everywhere my steps walked in Israel that year.
The picture shows the original stone I designed on the left (crazy that I kept one in my desk as a memory) and the one that the company now sells on the right.
Of course I had to say “Yes” as I thought how the Lord works in multiplying the little things into more than we can even ask for. This time it was in not only a couple hundred stones but thousands as there were more than a dozen plastic shoe boxes filled with about 400 to 600 stones in each box. That’s a lot of stones.
We unloaded his car and I piled the stones in my shop and thought “Well, what am I going to do with these?” I walked next door to my shopkeeper neighbor friend whose business, The Rustic Key re-purposes items and gave her an overflowing shoe-box full of them. My husband I glued about 300 to magnets to give to our customers, but we still had boxes of stones.
So, I hand-wrote a sign and set out a few buckets in front of my shop, each day replenishing the shoe boxes. Over the last 4 weeks little-by-little the stones were being taken from people who walked by.
Here’s a few of the messages of the glass and pewter stones. I’m sorry that I didn’t take pictures of all the messages of them as we had larger pewter ones and another glass stone that said “faith”.
We’ve had a number of people step into our shop and ask if they could pay for the stones, and of course I can’t take their money as they were a gift that was intended to be a blessing to anyone who took one or two, or even a bag or two for themselves, and to share with others.
I’ve many stories of people who I’ve talked to about the stones . . . mostly me saying take as many as you like and point to the piles of shoe-boxes of them in my back room. But we need to share a few stories.
I had one woman come in my shop holding a handful of the stones to thank me. As she was talking she said with all of the craziness in the world the messages are important and how everyone needs hope and love, especially today. She asked if I was a “Believer”, in which I said “Yes, I believe in every word written in the Bible”. She said that she knew it when she walked in. I handed her a plastic bag and invited her to take as many stones as she wanted.
What happened last week is the reason I am taking time to share one important story, and really opened my eyes how being a willing vessel to share the message of hope and love in what seems to be a small way really has the opportunity to impact far wider than I could ever fathom.
It was last Thursday afternoon, Dec 10th. I watched out the window as a man took his selection of stones. He knocked on my window to show me his bag. I smiled and waved and didn’t give any thought to his gratitude as dozens of people have, but I remembered his countenance and smile; it was full of joy and hope.
The next day another storekeeper friend, Pam from Pearls, stopped into my shop; she‘s also a Believer. Pam began to talk. She said “Cynthia, I’m not sure if you understand what is going on with those message stones that you are giving away.” I told her yeah I had an idea because of the many conversations that have transpired over the last few weeks. Then she said again, “I don’t think you understand.”
I continued to listen as she took me back to the day before by saying this. “You know the homeless man?” I said “The one that walks his dog?” She said “No, not that one, the other one” . . . “Okay, I know who you are talking about. He picked up stones yesterday and knocked on my window to thank me.” She said “Yes, him”! Pam had “just so happened” to walk outside as he was kneeling down and filling his bag of stones and became happier and happier with every one he put in his bag. Pam spoke to him and shared with me what he told her. She said that he was so happy and told her “Do you know I have many friends who are so depressed this time of year? (Of course we know he meant in the homeless community in our town.) He told Pam that he was going to give them the stones and tell them never to give up; there is hope, love, friendship, faith and someone loves you.”
As she shared the story I understood why he was almost glowing as he waved his hand and smiled at me . . . and how he was taking a small message written on a stone to others. I would never be able to reach the homeless community in our town as it is quite hidden but we know that there are many, including about 60 children according to a current awareness that a local church is educating our community of and their campaign to build a new shelter for the homeless.
I’m down to one shoe-box of stones; I am sure they will be gone by the end of the week. Quite timely I believe as Christmas Eve is this coming Thursday evening which even to those who don’t celebrate the holiday have to agree that a very special holy hush and reverence for the season can touch the hardest of hearts, and it does.
I’m also thinking of the many, many lives that have been, and will be touched because of the generosity of a man who first gave the stones, and how the message of faith, hope and love will be a light and a reminder to many this holiday season from the hundreds of hands who picked up the message stones in front of a little shop over the last few weeks. I’m also thanking my Jewish friend, Jack who told me that I was the first person he thought of to take the stones to.
Now, more than ever, the world, but especially Israel, needs the Hope of the Season, and the Shalom, Shalom that the one who is the Hope of the World brings to all of His Living Stones.
As I looked for my original “Shalom Shalom” stone today I’m also being nudged that I am to take the “Shalom Shalom” stones again to Israel next spring. I’ll be posting more about the tour that I am planning late May and early June in 2016 and how you can be join me in a blog over the next few days.