lenten journal: stack up the stones


Tonight Ginger and I watched the lastest episode of American Idol. The show is at the point where they do video profiles of those who have made it to Hollywood Week and pull at the heartstrings as hard as they can. For almost every one of them, music was a way through the pain of existence and all of them had a dream of getting to do it for a living. At this point in the show, we are watching performances that were taped weeks, even months, ago. The thought that kept crossing my mind was I wonder how many more weeks before the shows are supposed to be live and we are told we won’t have a new American Idol this year.

Tonight should have been the first play-in games for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Instead, it has been cancelled, along with most every other sporting event on the planet. But for some–and I’m talking more than athletes here–this year is a pivotal year and the rights of passage that help mark those significant transitions aren’t going to happen.

I saw a post today on Facebook of a couple whose wedding had to be postponed, so they went to the courthouse and got married, which made me smile and also made me sad they will not get to make the memory they had hoped. Our high school supposed to put up a production of “Into the Woods” over the next two weekends. We will never get to see it. We may not get to share in a public graduation ceremony.

One of my favorite stories in the Hebrew Bible is of Joshua telling the people to stack up the stones so that when the children ask about them they could tell the story of what happened. We need those stone-stacking events in our lives to remind us who we are, where we have been, and who has been with us. Those memories tie us to one another. They build community.

What do we do when we can’t stack up the stones?

Perhaps the question is better asked, what do we do since we can’t stack up the stones?

We are all upended right now. This is Day Two of my being mostly in the house all day and I am already a little stir crazy. I want to make a point of paying attention to who is not getting to stack up the stones in the middle of our shared grief and uncertainty. Social distancing (can’t we just shorten it to “sodis”?) doesn’t mean we can’t tell each other stories, or ask each other good questions, or find ways to help make memories.

We all know people we are missing the chance to stack up the stones in their lives. We may be those people ourselves. In the midst of the chaos and craziness, find a way to help someone make a memory. Look for ways to let people around you know you notice them. Whatever you do will not replace a graduation ceremony or an opening night, but it will let someone know you see their grief. You see them. Right now. And that will be a memory of its own.

I let myself lose too much time today reading all the articles and responses about what to do and what isn’t getting done. It took me out. I keep doing that. It leaves me feeling isolated and claustrophobic. I need to start stacking stones with and for those around me. We may not build the memories we were expecting, but we will have more to look back on than how long it was before we got to hug again.



  1. Up at 3am, can’t sleep, feeling anxious, but appreciating the focus you’ve provided about stacking the stones and helping others do the same. My sewing machine is up, I’m finishing projects to give to others. Offering to mend, iron, or cook for others if we can do a drop off. Missing our kids and grands, but grateful everyone is at home and taking this seriously, also concerned about protecting us, the “elders” considered the most vulnerable. But we have power, media to enrich and distract us (more music, less news), plenty of food we enjoy cooking, and time to do some things we’ve been meaning to do. Deep cleaning, walking outside, planting flowers, journaling about “Love in theTime of Corona”
    Day 3

  2. My son, Mark, and his bride-to-be, Brenna, were supposed to get married on 3/21 and they had to postpone the wedding because “Your health, and the health of your families is paramount. We want to be able to hug our guests, to dance with you, and to not have to have matching bride and groom face masks while we do.” They are hurting this weekend and your words struck a familiar chord today.

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