Unearthing Granite

by Jennifer Van Gundy '05

Yesterday I spent approximately four hours attempting to unearth the geological equivalent of Half Dome. This is due to the fact that yesterday was a work day here at the Bass Lake Campus. Now, understand that we work every day up here, on papers, projects, reading assignments, and the like. But yesterday was work of a different strain. Several times a semester all of us students and faculty band together to give back to the camp we call home by performing various tasks and projects. Last time we painted the entire deck of the girl’s dorm a foresty shade of green. This time we applied our efforts to tasks ranging from building new balay stations for the ropes course, to stacking and hauling lumber, to repairing the roof of one of the program directors’ homes. My group was assigned the task of laying a concrete walkway down to the Emerald Cove Camp pool. This involved digging five inches down into the ground for about fifty feet with deeper grooves running down the sides. The kicker was that, unbeknownst to us, the entire area was rife with huge slabs of granite—slabs of granite that were in the way of our digging.

For four hours we schemed and planned, forming new, brilliant means of shifting the rocks, putting them into practice, failing miserably, and starting again with more schemes and plans. We chipped and hacked at those hunks of stones with pickaxes, shovels, and hoes. We tried levering the rocks, drilling them, breaking them into bite-sized pieces, all to no avail. We did create a lot of sand in all our pounding and hacking, but not a whole lot of progress was made. It became clear that we were going to have to wear away at the rocks for hours in order to make any headway, so eventually our task had to be left in the hands of a qualified jackhammer.

The highlight of that afternoon for me was that despite the fact that we utterly failed to dislodge the largest granite slabs, we did manage to dig out some sizable chunks. We were hacking along down one side with the pickaxe when we ran into another gigantic rock. We scrounged around in the dirt archaeologist style for the edges, eventually coming to the unhappy conclusion that this was one heck of a rock. It was all we could do to keep from screaming. The slab was approximately four inches thick and maybe a two-and-a-half feet square in area. It must have weighed a good fifty pounds if not more. About five of us wrested that chunk of rock from the earth with a huge iron lever and shoved it up on its side amidst much grunting and yelling. It looked like something that Moses would have carried off of Mt. Sinai if he had been a professional wrestler rather than a sheep herder. Our plan thus far for that memorable chunk of stone was to (somehow) carry it up the hill to the chapel and write something profound and thought-provoking on it, something we all could do well to ponder, maybe the Ten Commandments.

I think it was somewhere in the process of wrenching that hunk of stone from the earth when I realized that there were a lot of parallels between rock wrenching and God’s work in my life. All of us have things in our life that lie under the surface, getting in the way of God’s plan. These things are lovingly, albeit painfully, wrenched from our lives and from our hearts so that the work can go on. The image of that slab being pried from the earth (believe me, it did not want to come out) just struck me as an amazingly powerful depiction of God’s dealing with the sin in my life. Some of the things are wrenched out with relative ease, others have to be removed slowly but surely, and some of the more stubborn areas are so deeply ingrained that they require constant discipline, a constant chipping away at my flesh until it eventually cracks. But all of the “rocks” in my life have to come out; no compromises can be made. How long the process takes and how much it hurts depends a lot on me. I can let him remove it and continue with his work or I can resist and force him to devote much time to its removal. But if I hold onto it, I just hurt myself more and slow the work of God in my life. God’s message to me and to all of us through those stones is: let today be the day in which you allow me to remove those things from your soul and set you free. Why delay a moment longer? I may choose to drag my heels out of my own foolishness and pride but in the end God has his way, be it with stones or with me.