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Like a Rock

Practice

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Psychologist Carl Jung believed that, in times of need, symbols emerge from a great archetypal well called the collective unconscious – symbols that define us at our core and transcend our lives.

Here a woman grapples physically with her own symbols — rock and stone — and finds unexpected healing. Maybe even an answer to Robert Frost’s grand challenge in his poem “Mending Wall”: “Before I built a wall I’d ask to know/What I was walling in or walling out.”

This article appeared in the Spring 2001 issue of Spirituality & Health. My early experiences with stones were anything but promising. As a child, my family escaped the frenetic brick, granite, and concrete jungle called New York City by heading for our summer home in the peaceful, verdant mountains of northern New jersey. There, my father, an abusive, alcoholic, and heavily armored man, who believed that the voice whispering in his head belonged to the patriarchal God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, forged a peculiar relationship with his land. One day, when I was 12, he announced that all seven acres needed to be free from rocks — cleansed, so to speak. After that revelation he would order my younger sister and me to cross the threshold separating our neatly trimmed lawn from a partially wooded meadow to “pick rocks” amid the tall grass and poison ivy and dump them on a pile close to the house. It was grueling work, and our young, often tear-filled eyes could never see an end to it. He would never tell us why, and I doubt he knew himself. More than thirty years later as he stared from his de …

Caren Goldman is a freelance writer, retreat leader, and conflict resolution consultant. Her articles on spirituality and health have appeared in Natural Health, New Age, Intuition, Yoga Journal, and other magazines.


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