Of Rocks and Words and Sticks and Stones

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By Davalynn Spencer @davalynnspencer

The earth was eating my driveway.

Where had all the gravel gone? (Sounds like a Pete Seeger song.)

My remedy: order more.

But that’s not how it works. I couldn’t just call the rock shop and ask them to deliver plain gravel – even though I had a gravel driveway. I had to go down there and look at piles of different colored rock in different sizes and choose exactly what I wanted.

It was like viewing the Grand Canyon at sunset all chopped up into little pieces.

Soon after, a big truck arrived at my home. Hydraulic arms extended, tipping the dump box up on one end, spilling a load of ¾-inch rose aggregate in a long pile.

It took a lot of those little pieces to cover my muddy driveway. Fifteen tons, to be exact.

One little rock. Then another. Then a flood.

A ¾-inch piece of pinkish rock doesn’t weigh much. Dig into a pile of them with a rake, and they weigh a lot.

Like words.

I make my living with words, lining them up in just the right order and teaching workshop students to do the same. Sometimes I pass out a survey at the beginning of the class that helps me get to know people better and get a sample of how they write.

Survey questions include:

What’s your greatest weakness when it comes to writing?”

If you could travel back in time to a historical event, which would you choose?”

If you could take back one sentence you’ve spoken, what would it be?”

That question is always a gut-buster. In the anonymity of a writing course, people tend to be honest. They write from their soul, and truth leaks out through the cracks in their answers.

“I quit.”

“I’ll buy it.”

“I don’t love you.”

“I wish you were dead.”

“I will never amount to anything.”

“I can visit grandma tomorrow, she’ll still be there.”

She wasn’t.

Of all the answers to this question over the years, the most often repeated has been, “I hate you.” Sometimes these three words were directed at a spouse or a friend, often to a parent. Regardless of the recipient, they always left a festering wound, doing more harm to the speaker than to the object of their anger.

Somewhere down deep inside us, we regret hateful, misspoken words uttered in the proverbial heat of the moment. We instinctively know they carry a 15-ton weight that can break a spirit.

And we know the old adage should really say, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can crush my soul.”

The wrong words can pile up and weigh a person down. But the right words can lay a strong, supportive foundation. 

Back in the driveway, I knew what was happening to the vanishing rock. The earth really was “eating” it, absorbing it the same way we absorb words that build us up and make us feel appreciated or bury us beneath a weighty hill of insignificance.

Commonplace little things, rocks and words. Choose wisely.

“A person’s words can be life-giving water;
words of true wisdom are as refreshing as a bubbling brook.” Proverbs 18:4 
“A gentle answer turns away wrath,
but hard words stir up anger.” Proverbs 15:1
“Your own soul is nourished when you are kind,
but you destroy yourself when you are cruel.” Proverbs 11:17


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A Change of Scenery by author Davalynn Spencer

No laughter followed her confession, but neither did judgment. Helen reached across the circular patchwork of pies and wrapped her work-worn hand around Ella’s with a soothing squeeze. “We all have a wound that makes us limp, dear. Some more than others, like Hugh who is crippled in spirit. That’s a much more difficult injury to deal with than a hitch in your gait.”

Something shifted inside. Helen’s words seeped through the woman’s fingers and into Ella’s core, dissipating a heavy shadow that had lingered there for the past year and a half. A thin and gauzy hope settled in its place. ~A Change of Scenery




Inspirational Western Romance – where the hero is heroic.ALT="free book"Want a free book? Sign up for my Newsletter!

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2 thoughts on “Of Rocks and Words and Sticks and Stones

  1. Karen Gee

    Again wise words in God’s Word!
    Not only should we “Do unto others as we would have them Do unto us”. But “Say unto others as we would have them Say/Speak unto us.
    Hurtful words can destroy a person, especially in your family. We must consider our words before they blurt out in to a loved ones ears!
    (And “just kidding “ doesn’t really help!)

    1. davalynn

      Thanks so much for reading, Karen.


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