Yesterday we visited Schoodic, one of our favorite parts of Acadia National Park. The peninsula is a ways north of Mt. Desert Island, a considerable drive up the coast if one is staying in Bar Harbor. It is usually uncrowded and the rocky shore is always majestic. Often, thick fog rolls in from the sea, creating dangerous conditions for boats and people alike; foggy days there are their own magic.
If you have visited the northern Maine cast you will know that it is rocky and steep, the hills coming right down to the ocean. Beaches tend to be brief affairs, and pebble strewn, making walking, let alone boat launching, a challenge.
Yesterday, as I sat on a bolder, surveying the beach and tide pools, my gaze fell on a granite outcropping that was breaking up as it weathered. The massive rock was fractured in many places, chunks, large and small, breaking free of the substrate.
Above me stood a sign that read, “Please Leave Rocks Here.” Acadia is one of the most visited parks in eastern North America, and I imagine that if the millions of visitors who come here yearly each took a stone, the beaches would soon be denuded.
I like to think about those rocks, and the fracturing that creates them. Weathering is a slow birth, and frost and storm determined midwives. These forces that create fracturing, and thus ever small discrete stones, are responsible for diversifying consciousness among the stone people. I wonder what slow thoughts pass through the awareness of a pebble newly separated from a larger rock. How many eons pass before that pebble becomes aware that it is now a unique being?
I believe it is difficult for most of us to appreciate the implications of weathering for the lives and dreaming of the rock people. After all, we are taught by the dominant culture that stones lack awareness, that they are just inanimate objects cast across the landscape by random processes.
So often that same metaphor is subtly applied to our own lives, casting us adrift in an unfriendly, meaningless universe. I believe there are indeed random events that help to shape our lives, but they occur within a larger frame, a mythic trajectory that gives our lives connection and meaning.
As I surveyed the landscape, I pondered the vast number of individual selves that inhabit the landscapes of our lives, their comings and goings, their birthings and disappearances. I wondered about the processes that create individuals and then, rapidly or slowly, return us to the whole. It is, indeed, a great Mystery.