One of the things I like best about the internet is that because of it, I have friends.
I'm serious about that. I have a few "real" friends, of course, the kind that I go shopping with and get drunk with and speak to on the phone with when I am having a nervous breakdown. But I mean it sincerely when I say that I have found some friends through the wonders of the "worldwide web." (Does anyone call it that anymore?)
I joined facebook and 4marks (a very cool Catholic networking site) because I wanted to connect with old friends and make some new ones. I believe I am managing to do both of those things, and avoid doing housework to boot. (But that's another story.)
I especially enjoy the connections I've made to Catholic writers, artists and musicians on 4marks. I find those creative types intriguing, and while I may not want to talk to them on a daily basis (many of them are quirky, like me) I really like getting to know them the new-fashioned way: through what they reveal online.
One new friend, Patrice Egging, is a songstress and all-around cool pro-life Catholic lady. Among other things, she collects rocks. But they're not just ordinary rocks - she favors a special kind, those shaped like hearts.
I was out walking the other morning when I came across a whole pile of rocks. They were lined up along side a fence, where other folks have little green plants sometimes. I immediately thought of Patrice, and of my son Luke, who brings home rocks EVERY DAY that he picks up on his way home from school.
I thought maybe I could find a cool rock to send to Patrice. I didn't have much time to search, because I was walking Sophie, and she didn't want to stop to look at rocks that did not smell the least bit like bacon. I also didn't want the homeowner to come out and inquire why I was digging through his stony border, so I glanced around quickly, figuring that if there was a heart to be found I'd spot it, grab it and make a quick get-away.
But I found nothing so I went home.
Don't be ridiculous! Of course I found a rock! A beautiful one! A perfect one!
Here it is:
I was going to send it to Patrice, really I was. But the more I thought about it, I knew it was intended for me. When I look at it, I see a heart. You, or Patrice, or any other normal person probably does not. You see a bumpy misshapen thing, a rock that looks quite ordinary and rough.
I see a heart. One little girl taught me that hearts are sometimes imperfect. They are rarely shaped like valentines, and they are usually kind of crazy and torn-up.
And they are all unique.
I put the rock, the imperfect heart-shaped rock, in my pocket, and smiled all the way home. It reminded me of friends, old and new, and of hope, and spring, and love. It reminded me that you can find the right thing if you look in the right place, and look with the eyes of a child.
Did I mention it's pink?