October 26, 2017 – Ebeneezers, Standing Stones and Remembrance

Webster’s defines an Ebeneezer as “a commemoration of divine assistance”.  In the Bible it could take different forms, but the most common was a standing stone or pile of stones.  It was a monument to remind the people of what God had done for them at that geographical location.  For example, after crossing the Jordan river after Moses’ death, the priests gathered stones from the dry river bed and used them to assemble an Ebeneezer on the distant shore to remind the people that God had led them out of the wilderness, parted the Jordan river and led them over the dry ground into the promised land.  Similarly, in Ancient Ireland and Britain, standing stones were used to establish covenants, mark sacred lands, and commemorate important events.  In pretty much every civilization, you can find the use of stones to mark places and events of significance.

One of my former Russian instructors had been a geologist in the former Soviet Union, and he used to collect rocks from locations that had a special meaning in his life.  For example, he had a rock from the shores of each of the rivers he had surveyed, a stone from the airport when he first landed in the United States, etc.  He used to say stones are always somewhere by intent…they are moved from location to location by external forces, so the fact the stone was there in the first place was by intent, making it unique and memorable, as well as an enduring tie from the past to the present.  I am not entirely sure of the uniqueness, however, I am fully in agreement that rocks/stones make good objects to which we can attach memories, and, each time we see them they can take us back to the place or event in our mind.  That is why I have a sack of stones in my office.  Each one marks a special memory.  For example, I have a stone from the island where Scott and Lyra were engaged, a rock from the Isle of Skye where we spent part of our 15th anniversary, a rock from the path outside the Eagles’ Nest in Berchtesgarden where Easy Company took their photos after liberating it in 1945, and so on.

Over the years, I have accumulated quite a few of them, but I have been somewhat amazed that I can still remember which stone is associated with which event.  Whether a vacation, a family gathering, a celebration, a significant occasion, etc., the memories come back fresh and vibrant.  Granted, my pockets get a little heavier, but I have found them to be a significant, yet inexpensive way of commemorating special times, and, interestingly, more valuable than most of the other souvenirs I have picked up.  They may not be monetarily valuable, but their sentimental value is high…

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