from the desk of mary batson: author, speaker, storyteller, and apple butter fan   
sneak peek: gran's big book of short stories
Dance Like a Stone

     Long, long ago, before the age of man, the great stones would gather on mountain tops to dance and sing their songs of praise and joy. By moonlight they gathered, and deep into the darkness they would sing, as moonbeams danced about them, mirroring their every move, dip for bow, bow for dip.

     Slow and stately was the dance of the elders, elegant in its subtle patterns, first worshipful in its simplicity, then splendidly extravagant with an occasional crescendo of air and light and sound from some young and impetuous pebble. For thousands of years they danced, wearing deep grooves in the earth as they traveled from plain to plateau to peak, never dreaming that the paths they trod would later become the great rivers and canyons and creeks and streambeds that you and I know. But that story, of the age of rain, is not for today.

     In those days, the earth was also young and impetuous, so far as planets go, twirling gaily through the cosmos, a ballerina among the stars, spinning madly until she would grow dizzy and have to slow down for a while. Yet even planets grow up, and grow up Earth did, just as her children grew, and as she grew her dance slowed, steps gliding in a seamless spin that no longer jolted and churned in childish glee, but instead reflected the steady, beautiful balance she had attained, with footsteps one could hardly follow, so soft were they, as if she no longer needed to touch the star-studded dance floor along her path.

     As the great dancer slowed, so did the mighty rocks, young and old alike, twirling and spinning ever more slowly, ever more stately, ever more stone-ly. It almost seemed like the rocks had forgotten they could dance, that they had danced for trillions of years, before the first star’s laughter had ever reached them in applause. Some rocks began to dance in place, moving only in their minds, freezing atop their marble stages, caught in an eternal spotlight of moonglow. Others would start for home, then somewhere along the way, halfway down the mountain, they would stop, as if struck by thought, and never move again. Others would be halfway to their next tryst before they would understand that now was the time for Being, when all the Doing and Dancing was to cease for a spell in this new age.

     And so today, Gran said, as you travel about, you may notice a stone here or there that seems in an odd place, almost like it was stopped, tumbling in mid-air, mid-step, mid-dance – and you will be right. It was. For now is the time for the stones to Be, to hold their wisdom, to watch and wait for the day when they will share it with those to come.

     But don’t ever mistake, Gran went on – they still dance, only more beautifully and subtly than ever. We rarely see this, she said, because we rarely slow down enough to appreciate the elegance with which they move. And if per chance one day we should happen to catch a stone in its dance, plunging down a mountain side or tumbling along a river bed, we can laugh, realizing that this must be one of the younger stones, who for a moment has remembered that it can fly, it can dance, it can soar with the best of them, and just for a moment was overcome with exuberance, forgetting itself in the joy of flight.

     And then we can smile, forgiving its slip with a shake of our head and the warmth in our heart, whispering quietly, “Be patient, young friend. Your time will be here soon. You who have not forgotten have served faithfully in your stillness, and for that you shall be rewarded. Until then, sweet friend, watch on.”

     And so it was, Gran said, and so it shall be – and so it is.

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