"Mommy, come here," my oldest called to me from where he sat creating something behind a big boulder on the beach.
"One minute, Sweetie. My lap is full of stuff." I called back. I had been taking the moments while my children were all busy making designs on the beach to empty and organize "the pit" of a backpack that we often carry with us. My lap was filled with reminders of many of the things we've done recently: a hand out from a medicinal herb walk, a map from a fairground, a library book about team challenges, a "Junior Archaeologist" pin, bug spray, sunscreen, and so much more. We've been so busy and so blessed lately. I thought. No wonder I've been tired and just want to sit on the beach here for a while this afternoon.
"Are you done, Mom? Come see." My son excitedly reminded me that he was waiting for me.
I exhaled. "I know you're waiting, Son. Let Mommy just finish up here." I sorted things to toss from things to bring home to file from things that were to remain in the backpack. Then, I picked up my camera, got up, walked toward the boulder that hid my son's creation from view, and expected to see some sort of mini battle fortress made my boy.
As I rounded the boulder, camera in hand, ready to snap a photo of his creation, I smiled. "Well, let me see..."
My son smiled back at me with bright, delighted eyes, stepped aside, and drew my attention to the ground. There stood no tall, elaborate castle fortress of rocks and sand. Rather, there was but a formation one layer of rocks high. One that surprised me.
Now, a rock rosary made by my daughter would have been creative, but typical. She loves to pray and has been known to create rosary designs out of random materials. One made by my son, especially on that day at that place at that moment wowed me. Just that morning he had remained absolutely quiet during our morning decade in our minivan (I suspected he was reading a book about Minecraft in the back row.) When we'd arrived at the beach, just as soon as our picnic lunch had been eaten, he'd begun protesting our further stay in the area. We'd walked at a preserve, participating in a butterfly count event and had eaten. What more was there to do? He wanted to go home. I, however, insisted that we stay just bit longer on the beach as I longed to take in sun, surf and sand... and to organize my bag. He'd conceded, but begrudgingly, and had spent some of the time breaking the peace as he'd bickered with his little brother about space to build creations. "You have an entire beach of space." I had reminded them both before they separated to create on their own. This, I had not suspected that God had been anywhere on my boy's mind at that moment.
I was wrong.
"Do you see the cross?" he bubbled as I looked down at his design.
"I do." I smiled, touching the large cross at the bottom of his rock rosary. "This rosary is beautiful."
"And do you see the extra ones? How many are there?" He pointed toward the small rock crosses he had made to either side of the rosary and in its middle.
"Three." We both smiled. Neither of us needed to speak aloud what his reasoning had been for making three crosses. Together, they acted as a symbol to two things: The Trinity. Plus, the three crosses on the hill at Calvary.
I sat down next to the rock rosary. "I love it."
"Thank you." He smiled.
"Thank YOU." I echoed. "It is a beautiful reminder to pray." I wondered if my next question would be met with a negative. "Shall we pray a decade together?"
Without pause, my boy replied, "Sure."
I touched the cross that he had made and began with the Sign of the Cross. Then, I stopped. "Would YOU like to lead our decade?"
"Sure," said the boy who rarely even speaks aloud during our regular prayer times lately.
"Would you like to offer an intention or would you like Mommy to suggest one?" I queried since only once in recent history has Luke offered intentions and prayed aloud when our family prays the rosary together each day in the van.
"For all the people who do not yet believe..." My son paused.
"That's beautiful, Luke." Water brimmed on the edges of my eyes. "Mommy might get teary while we pray."
He grinned. "I thought so," he looked straight at me, knowing his mom so well and, I pray, knowing His Father and Our Lady, too. I moved my hand to the first rock.
"Our Father..." he began. As I touched each stone he'd so carefully placed, he led us in prayer.
His sister wandered over, sat down quietly, and joined us.
When we'd concluded our unexpected, peaceful and beautiful prayer time, I thanked my son again and took a photo of him and his rock rosary.
"Let's leave it here so other people might be inspired to pray," we all agreed.
So it is that my son's literally rock-solid reminder to pray sits on a beach about an hour from our home. I wonder if someone who comes upon it today will notice it, know what it is, and pause for prayer. I pray that his intention is heard and that those who have not yet come to know and love God take one step closer to doing so today.
What reminders to pray or give thanks might your children create spontaneously or upon suggestion? I'd love to see a photo or to hear about them!