Dead Stone Come to Life


When I think of resurrection, I think of a stone on my kitchen counter.

I picked it up at the beach last year. It’s smooth and gray, like most of the rocks on the beach, with one difference:

The holes.

One hole pierces its middle. Two opened seashells lodge in another empty space like baby bird beaks. It’s pocked with miniscule caves.

Honestly, I’m not sure how it’s still in one piece.

The ocean is a harsh place. I’m fair and prone to sunburn; when I walk on the beach I wear a hat and a long-sleeved shirt. There’s the wind that always skims over the surface of the Pacific, picking up sand and salt in its wake and blowing them on my face. And there’s the ocean itself—the back and forth of the waves that reach for my feet and topple my children if they’re not paying attention.

My first time at the beach as a ten year old, watching the water made me dizzy. The back-and-forth made me feel like the whole earth tilted.

Not surprising then that the litter of sea life on the sand bear witness to the ocean’s terrifying power. The water didn’t just pierce my stone, but batters and bruises millions of shells. Many have holes through their center, more are missing chunks.

And along the reefs, the sand turns into a litter of thousands of shell bits, all colors of the rainbow pounded to oblivion.

It used to disappoint me that the shells I found on the beach did not look like pictures in a book. Sand dollars had their faces smashed, conches had their points sawn off, and most shells were so battered as to be unrecognizable.

But lately, I’ve been finding beauty in the piercing.

Take the stone I brought home. Those two shells lodged in its cave reminded me that it sheltered living things. They took refuge in the places where it had been undone.

I walk past some local tide pools—wedges of sandstone like tables stuck in the beach. The stone I found is sister to these.

The crevasses hide manifold treasures: sea anemones, tiny shrimp, and tufts of seaweed in every shade of green.

The sides of these enormous rocks are a warren of smaller holes, along with barnacles, mussels, and chitons. It’s a high rise of sea life, neighbors crammed shell-to-shell on the pock-marked rock.

Sometimes I squat next to the tables at low tide, when the high rises are left high and dry. Stand still enough for a minute and the yellow-speckled crabs come out to dance from their hidey-holes. They scurry sideways and feed themselves with their tiny claws, their jaws chomping and foaming.

If I so much as twitch they’re gone, safe in the stone’s shelter.


In art classes, I learned about negative space. The places where a red pepper or stone or hand aren’t are as important to see as what is. The negative space defines the isness. When drawing, you learn to assign equal importance to both the thing and its negative space.

That’s what each tide pool is like. Life happens in the spaces where the stone is shattered and pierced. That’s where the stone becomes something more than sand, something more than dead rock.

That’s where the dead stone comes alive.

Jesus rose again pierced.

Wholeness does not always mean we are in one piece. Healing does not mean we’re unmarked.

I am trying to see the places I have been pounded straight through as both a loss and a treasure. I am taking stock of my holes and trying to see them as sheltering places.

I am trying to let go of my impulse to run away from waves. I am trying stop wanting to be untouched, to be unchanged, to have control over where and how and at what cost the powerful water transforms my life.

Heather Caliri
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9 thoughts on “Dead Stone Come to Life

  1. Heather, I am a former So Cal beach girl and have way too many rocks and shells….. And one that looks like yours in the picture. (I live in Seattle now, the beach is 3 hours away.)
    Finding a story of piercing and resurrection in this washed ashore treasure….well, that takes Jesus eyes. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. “Wholeness does not always mean we are in one piece. Healing does not mean we’re unmarked.” Love this so much. Something I have wrestled with for a long time. I want my healing to be clean and complete, and it doesn’t ever resemble that. I’m not always pleased with that, but I’m learning to appreciate the scrapes and scars more and more.

    • Oh, me too. So much of the treasure of healing has come when I’ve leaned into loving my scars just as they are, and not expecting them to look any different.

  3. Love this Heather. Our “poundings” produce loss and treasure – and I think sometimes we can’t know which until later.

  4. Oh, my, this is lovely, Heather. Thank you for all these rich images. A beach lover myself, it all rings so true to me. A great gift this recovery day.

  5. Ok, we’re tracking in some eerily similar ways. I’ve been spending the last week thinking and writing about stones. And I have a whole note on my iPhone on negative space.

    This is beautiful! Love your insights …

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