Nestled in the mountains of West Virginia, our little home Serendipity is a part of a community with a road that winds in a circle around the mountain. It’s become a “thing” for us to “walk the circle” together during every season–in the fall, we collect acorn that we bring home and color; in the winter, we make deep marks in the snow with our boots; In the spring, we hear water rushing everywhere as the snow melts all over the mountain, and in summertime, we fight the little bugs that swarm around our heads.
It was during one of those circle walks that we noticed a little river rock sitting on top of a very large boulder that separated the two sides of the road. The flat river rock looked lonely, so I picked up a second rock and placed it on top of it. “There,” I said, “I’ve got you a buddy!”
We did our circle walk during our next visit at Serendipity about a month later. To my surprise, the flat rock had gained a couple of new buddies, and the four rocks looked a bit like a sculpture. I smiled, imagining a child carefully choosing a stone to add to the monument, and then another who noticed and added as well. I, of course, had to contribute.
Over the next few months, through a couple of seasons, we saw the sculpture grow into what looked like a house with two walls and a roof, all made out of stones. And then, one day, a teddy bear showed up, finding refuge within the walls of the house.
We continued to build.
The bear got soaked with the heavy rains that hit the West Virginia Mountains, and he looked like a limp, lifeless rag. Someone put him out to dry in the sun, and even though he took his sweet time, he came back into himself.
The bear fell over in the mud, but someone rescued him.
The bear got its arms and legs covered with snow, but I smiled as I noticed that his middle was protected by the little house.
And my neighbors that I never met and I, we continue to build our sculpture.
And my neighbors that I never met and I, we continue to take care of our bear.
Every time I do the circle walk, I check on “our” bear.
I am a part of something bigger than me.
And as corny as it may sound, I am reminded that we each have a part to play, and together, we can protect those who can’t do it for themselves.
I think I’ll name him Smiley. I hope my neighbors like that name.