Diamonds in the rough
They aren’t really diamonds. Not the type of diamonds mined from deep within the earth. These ones wash up on the beach. The Cape May diamonds that I found while beach combing on the Jersey shore shown in the picture above just spent a few months in various stages of being tumbled in my rock tumbler at home. They will be shared with our students who are making Affirmation of their Baptism this weekend.
Reflecting on diamonds (no pun intended) I considered all the ways that we use the word diamond- from a suit of playing cards, the stars shining in the night, the Beatles song about Lucy, to “diamonds in the rough” as someone whose inner characteristics or beauty has yet to fully shine through.
It was at the end of April that I picked up these Cape May diamonds. They come from quartz in the Delaware bay and have a hardness score of 7. Diamonds are the hardest known natural mineral with a score of 10. So Cape May diamonds while not as hard are very strong.
Unlike the diamonds that come from deep within the earth and are cut with sharp edges to reflect light Cape May diamonds are already somewhat smooth and clear. They have been smoothed over by water and rubbed up against sand for many years. They reflect light. When I put them in the rock tumbler the slightly rough edges and cracks got smoother. They tumbled through four different stages ending with a polishing phase so now they really shine.
So I have had diamonds on my mind for quite awhile. Prior to being confirmed I get to share a home visit with the student and parents of those being confirmed and it allows me to get to know them at a deeper level. I listen for what gifts God has blessed them with and how the Spirit is working through them. I am also curious about the rough edges and the places that need to be smoothed. These visits take place as they start high school.
We talk about choosing a bible verse to be their “go to” verse that has value, purpose and meaning for them. We chat about any questions they have about faith, God, church, or anything else. We discuss what they will do for their creative project - something that shares visually their own faith journey.
Over the past several months the Cape May diamonds have been in various stages of being tumbled. During rock tumbling different grades of abrasives are used to help smooth out the rough places and let the light shine through. Rock tumbling takes a lot of time and patience. Our faith journeys do as well.
The rock tumbler I have was my special birthday gift two years ago. It was during one of the hardest times -ever -in my work as a pastor. The actual day of my birthday was one of the saddest and hardest in particular. When I pulled out the rock tumbler I remembered that birthday. It now seems like a time much farther away. A lot has been smoothed out and more light has gotten to shine through. Tumbling rocks reminds me that change and healing take time.
For rock tumbling to work, you need there to be enough rocks to fill the tumbler at least 2/3 of the way. Rocks need each other for the process to work. So I had to supplement the Cape may diamonds with other small and medium sized rocks I found. You need water for rock tumbling. The rocks get put in the darkness of the tumbler. There are multiples steps and stages and you check the progress along the way.
Today as I write, I am remembering and giving thanks for those who were in that rock tumbler with me a couple years ago. In tough times I know that the gift of faith is renewed and refreshed through the daily reminders of Baptism. Others helped remind me of this. I am giving thanks for those who listened to me, those who prayed for me, those who were willing to sit in the dark with with me. They helped smooth out some of my rough edges and cracks.
The beach is one of my happiest places. As I walked along the Jersey Shore collecting the Cape May diamonds this year I knew I wanted to tumble them to see the light shine through them. I was thinking of our Confirmation students and how I would share Cape May diamonds with them. I want to give them a “touchstone” to remind them of how much they are loved.
I want to share with them that even in the darkest times God is with us in the water using the abrasive things in life to smooth out our rough edges and let our brightness shine through. I want to help them remember that we are in this together.
Each of their names is in my bible written beside their Confirmation verse with the date October 28, 2018. On this “we” journey they are helping me remember all of this too. I may also put a little asterisk next to that date this time to remind me of the Cape May diamonds I shared this year. It will also remind me how much healing, smoothing out and light shining through can take place in even just a couple years.