For those with even an inkling of childlike wonder in their soul, the puddles call us, begging the quieter types to either gingerly walk through them or carefully place a twig boat and watch it sail away. For the more adventuresome spirits there is a pull to jump straight in with the intention of creating a splash. For both there is a lure to throw stones into them to watch the ripples.
On Wednesday, the warmest of the days, I had the chance to take little Benjamin for a walk in our nearby Provincial Park. It too has seen its share of melting this week and it didn’t take long for me to find a puddle to show Ben. At just fourteen months, Ben neither knows what a puddle or a stone is, and other than dropping a few vegetables onto the floor during dinner, he hasn’t got a clue how to throw. I still thought he might appreciate the wonder of watching a stone hitting the water and creating first a splash, and then the seemingly endless rings of ripples. We stood together at the edge of a puddle while I gently tossed a few stones.
Thinking that Ben stood very little chance of success with the stone throwing himself, I still felt the urge to place a rock in his hand to see what he might do. He enjoyed the texture and I’m sure he would have loved the taste had I let him sample it. It turns out that although Ben cannot quite throw, he did understand the idea that if he dropped the stone in the water, it did its part in making the tiny splash and then the ripples. When he dropped his first little stone right at the edge of the puddle, it tugged at my heart to see the little ripples fan out.
It turns out that even the tiniest among us, using the tiniest stones, can have an effect on this world and her inhabitants. Sometimes we don’t have to do much of anything at all; just show up, drop a stone and watch.
Ben, was, for the most part, blissfully unaware of the affect his stone throwing had on me. In some ways, it’s how he travels through life these days. He goes about his business of discovering his amazing, ever-expanding world with no awareness of the ripples he creates. The rest of us are completely aware of his affect.
I’m guessing many of us, like Ben, travel through our own ever-changing lives dropping and throwing stones without recognizing their impact. We throw and turn away before the ripples start. No doubt, sometimes the stones we throw would have been better left on the path. We can easily hurt others with our stones; I suppose this is why, as children, we were taught not to throw them. But other times, throwing stones and creating ripples is exactly what we should do. These stones are gifts.
We’re throwing stones when we smile at someone.
We’re throwing stones when we pay a genuine compliment.
We’re throwing stones when we acknowledge someone’s value in our life.
We’re throwing stones when we take time to listen.
This past week, not only was it stone throwing weather in my part of the world, it appears there were both ugly and beautiful stones being thrown around the globe. Christchurch, New Zealand, had such a large stone thrown at it, it’s rippling impact will be seen and felt for years.
So too, will the impact of the very direct stone of fierce resolve thrown by Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of that same country, as she fearlessly took steps to ban military style assault weapons, defining clearly the safe and compassionate kind of country she planned to lead. And by all accounts, the citizens of New Zealand are all standing by ponds and puddles and oceans tossing stones of kindness as gently as they can, in hopes that these ripples too will have a lasting impact.
I wish we hadn’t been taught to not throw stones. I wish instead we’d been encouraged to find as many gift-giving stones as we could, and to carry them carefully in our pockets as we travel this world past puddles and ponds and lakes and rivers and oceans. Then when the world reveals one of her needs, we could stop and choose just the right stone to toss, to create ripples of the kind I felt when Benjamin dropped his little stone, and the kind the mourning citizens of Christchurch need to feel this week.
My inquiry for you this week is, ‘What stone am I throwing?’
Elizabeth is a certified, professional Life and Leadership Coach, and the owner of Critchley Coaching. She is also the founder and president of the Canadian charity, RDL Building Hope Society. She works with corporations, non-profits and the public sector, providing leadership programs and personal coaching for individuals and teams. Contact Elizabeth to find out how to choose the right stones to toss to create the ripples you long to make.