Before life, the rock. The poets claim the rock speaks.
Despite my daily cheek-to-boulder pushing, I can’t hear it with that deafening resentment ringing in my ears.
My cell phone rings. I glimpse the whole earth beneath the digital time before I slide to unlock. Every time it rings lately I hear the miners chiseling for coltan, “Blood Coltan” as some call it.
You’ve heard of the African war between the Hutus and the Tutsis, but do you know that every able bodied Rwandan villager works like a slave mining Coltan? Men, women and children chisel hour after hour in the mines, and then hustle barefoot with leaden bags of minerals on their heads, to exchange it for their daily bread. The mineral carriers are terrorized and shaken down by rebel militias and Congolese soldiers alike. There hasn’t been peace in the region since 1994 because the bloody war serves the rich making microprocessors for their cell phones in foreign lands. And all of this atop the poisonous horrors mining flushes down through the watershed and dumps in the soil. A local priest reflects on their wretched situation, “these natural resources that ought to improve our lives, only increase our unhappiness.”
Resentment rings hearing, day after day, how our convenience and fun is hitched to death and suffering.
What would the rocks say? It would take some damn good ears to hear them.
Imagine hearing the rocks rolling in geologic time. Great masses of molten rock gurgling, volcanic mountains spitting lava, hardened continental crust buckling and scraping in upward thrusts, tectonic groaning, glacial creaking, and zillions of tiny pebbles crumbling and tap-tap-tapping like slow rain falling on stone.
To hear the rock whisper over the earphones incessantly blaring “I” tunes, muffling the “we” tunes, would take ears behind ears – ears like eyes wide and willing to witness all that is defiled in the name of cellular communication.
To transform our aural sensibilities, to become the rock listeners we were never raised to be, we must, with open hearts, press the soft flesh of our ears against the hard stone.
Serenity Tip # 1 – Listen more often to stones than to cell phones.