• Rossendale Circuit

From The Garden Bench - Rocks

Words by David Hollows


As an island nation we often take for granted the rocks that surround us of all shapes and sizes. We know that the cliffs at Dover are white, that Edinburgh is founded on an extinct volcano, and the Welsh and Scottish have mountains whereas the English have hills. We may be aware of the cost to our coastlines and other rocky areas from erosion caused by the sea, wind or pollution.

Jennifer Benson Schuldt comments:

‘One year during my holiday, I walked along the shoreline of a large lake. As I approached a pile of boulders, I noticed a small alcove between the rocks and observed that a tiny plant had taken root there. The plant appeared to be absorbing the right amount of sunlight and water, and it was also getting something else, protection from rain and wind.’

(Do not conform to the pattern of this world - 2016)

Photo by Dyaa Eldin Moustafa via Unsplash

Doubtless you will have experienced the excitement, either as a child or with your own children or grandchildren, of exploring rock pools at the seaside and being amazed by the teeming life in such a small space yet in its own way being a mini universe.

Rocks, whether they form the shoreline or surround a lake, can be a form of protection, a sea defence for much of our national coastlines but also areas of danger. On September 7th 1838, Grace Darling, the daughter of a lighthouse keeper, spotted a shipwreck and survivors offshore. Grace and her father courageously rowed their boat a mile through the stormy waters to rescue several people and then navigated their way back avoiding the rocks. Unlike the famous mermaid which sits on the small rock in Copenhagen, there is no specific ‘rock’ which celebrates the heroism of Grace and her father.

The geologists amongst you will understand the differences between the various rock types; limestone, sandstone and chalk, all of which determine the various flavours of the natural drinking waters around the country and the ways in which these various types of water can be used. For example, the cotton mills of Lancashire would not have flourished in the south of the country because of the water type. Similarly, the stone extracted from the Rossendale quarries to build the rows of terraced houses and mills along with the miles and miles of dry stone walls is very different to the stone of the Peak District. If you visit Cliff College in Derbyshire and climb to the top of the hills and walk along the crags, you will notice a difference in the rock types.

There are, of course, the famous examples of rocks such as Ayres Rock in Australia or the rock formations in the Grand Canyon in the United States of America which some of you may have visited.

There may be one or two of you who enjoy the various sports connected with rocks: rock climbing, pot-holing, caving, mountaineering or exploring the diverse caves which may contain various stalagmites or stalactites. Rocks on the surface or deep below can be fascinating.

The term, ‘rock’ is sometimes used to describe a person in a relationship whereby the ‘rock’ refers to a person who is supportive, dependable, strong, especially in times of trouble or difficulty. Augustus Montague Toplady wrote the very famous hymn, Rock of Ages, as a reflection of the relationship we have with God who is the ‘rock’ for many Christians.

Rocks feature in the Bible.

David often refers to God as his rock in the Psalms: the rock of my strength (Psalm 62) the rock of my salvation (Psalm 89) the rock of my refuge (Psalm 94)

Rocks are used in the Old Testament to construct a reminder to following generations of what God had done in a certain place. Joshua uses 12 rocks to remind others of the place where the Israelites crossed the river Jordan to the Promised Land (Joshua chapter 5) Following the Exodus from Egypt, the Israelites were face with the issue of there being no water in the desert until Moses is instructed by God to strike the rock with his staff and the water flows (Numbers chapter 20).

In the New Testament Jesus tells the story of the two house builders; one who builds on rock and the other on sand and we all know the outcome to this story (Matthew chapter 17) Jesus changes the name of Simon to Peter , the rock on which Jesus will build His kingdom (Matthew chapter 16). Jesus again refers to rocks in the story of the Parable of the Sower as the seed fell on the rocks and did not grow (Luke chapter 8) Paul has a very different experience of rocks than either Jesus or Peter as Paul was involved in a shipwreck and almost perished because of the rocks (Acts chapter 27)

Paul refers to Jesus as a ‘rock’ in his letter to the believers in Rome: As it is written, Behold, I am laying in Zion a Stone that will make men stumble, a Rock that will make them fall: but he who trusts in Him shall not be put to shame nor be disappointed in his expectations’ (Romans chapter 9 verse 33) In his letter to the believers in Corinth Paul wrote the following about Jesus: ‘And they all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from a spiritual Rock which followed them and the Rock was Christ.’ (1 Corinthians chapter 10 verse 4)

The relationship with Jesus is the rock foundation of faith for most Christians. All that we have and are is given by God because of our relationship with Jesus, His death and His resurrection.

Photo by Oliver Paaske via Unsplash

Who or what is the ‘rock’ of your life?

You may find the following prayer helpful:

We give to you our thanksgiving, O Lord our God, Father of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. We praise you at all times that you are our rock, our shelter, our support and our provider. We thank you that you are totally dependable and that you have guided us through the perils or our lives and kept us from the rocks of destruction to place us on the beaches of tranquillity. We pray that you will be our companion on the way and that you will grant to us all joy and well-being all the time of our lives until you call us home. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Signing off: your local Lay worker, David Hollows

Photo by Sanasar Tovmasyan via Unsplash

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