In the years I was a young, single mother, I traveled a lot, internationally. The trips were rushed and I often didn’t have time to shop for a gift for my son. One day, I saw a small stone on the path–a type of stone we didn’t see at home. It came home with me, and I made a story about the stone’s family and how it always wanted to travel. My son enjoyed the story, and a tradition started.
Every trip I took, I brought home a rock and a story. It became a habit to scan the ground for interesting stones. When I hike, I still do.
I’m not a happy airline traveler. But it’s still the fastest way from here to there, so I brave the TSA, the delays, and the bumpy flights. Some years ago, on my way to the airport, I scooped up a rock from the front yard and put it in my pocket. When I got home, I tossed it back in the yard. It became a way for me to assure myself that I’d come back to return the rock. I’d hold the rock during take-off and landing, and it helped keep me calm.
A few weeks ago, during walking meditation, a rock caught my eye. It was unusual, because it was a good 50 feet away, and it was a small stone. I walked over and picked it up. It was remarkably smooth, rectangular, and split halfway down the length. The split created a landscape of a mesa and a distant mountain.
The rock came home with me, got washed, and put in my pocket. It was a good rock. Everybody needs a rock. It went on one trip with me, and another. It did the job of grounding me. One night, I put it under my pillow and dreamed of the most amazing sunrise. I was standing on a Mesa and watched the sun rise, filling me with strength and courage. I left the hotel the next morning and had to dash back to retrieve the stone–I needed it to remind me of the dawns that come after the darkest night, and of strength and courage.
As I often do with special work, I called Matt Muralt, who does custom jewelry in Mesa, Arizona. I explained I wanted a sunrise put into the stone. A thin line of gold inset into the stone face to outline the top of the mesa and the far-away mountain. Matt also drilled a hole in the top for the bail and lined the hole to avoid having the stone wear out the silver bail. Matt had made my pencil amulet, and he transformed this stone into a talisman. From a distance, it looks like a minimalist piece of jewelry. But in my hand, it is the stone that will bring me safely home, with strength and courage.
–-Quinn McDonald knows the value of amulets and talismans.