Beauty from Impurity

As I drove to Unicoi State Park a few weeks ago, I found myself drawn to a touristy little stop called Goats on the Roof. It’s a little store that sells soda, local t-shirts and yes, goats are actually on their roof. Amongst the draw for the out-of-towner is the ability to buy a bucket of sand that may or may not hide a trove of gemstone treasures.

Of course, the sand is probably baited. But, I’d say that $6 is a small price to pay to instill wonder in the mind and heart of a child when he finds a gemstone that would yearn to be identified and always treasured.  Since I was traveling alone, I didn’t buy a bucket of sand (though, I was rightly tempted).  Instead, I purchased a geode to take home for Joy.

Before leaving the store, I happened across a small basket of gorgeous geodes
sliced right through and polished to a translucent, lustery beauty. At only .99 each, I decided to choose myself a handful. I wasn’t sure WHAT I would do with them, but I considered them bounty already.

Before making my final choice, I made a quick phone call to Stone. I sent him a photo that I took with my phone to help clarify my question. I had never seen P.I.N.K geodes. I wondered if they were infused with color so that they would sell better. He assured me that these masterpieces can be a full spectrum of color and that pink was indeed a natural color.  Further reading has taught me that some geode coloring is enhanced by dye, but they can, in fact, have natural pigment in a wide range on the color spectrum.

Once I returned home from my jaunt, Joy searched for the hammer (which is always lost in her room for some reason). We grabbed a towel and she *pounded.*

Though we don’t know where this geode originated, its inside was filled with beautiful crystal quartz.

When we traveled to the beach last week, I was excited to be able to lay out upon the table before my friend
my Goats on The Roof purchase.
These precious treasures … smooth gemstones layered with pigment …


translucent stripes of earthen brown, teal green and turquoise blue
rippled shades of pink and salmon


and vitreous amethyst, violet and lilac
were still moving to me.

As Stone ran his hands across the quartz and investigated,
he reminded me that these could have been clear crystals
but the colors infused …
the patterns created
the beauty that we now enjoyed
was formed
from impurities
that were locked inside those geodes as they formed.

As I stood there shoulder to shoulder with this man, my friend,
who has a passion for the natural world and a love of rocks,
I thought of the depth and breadth of his statement
and the physical/spiritual parallels.

Though quartz in its clear form is fully beautiful

how much more rich, interesting and stunning

are the geodes that have pattern, intricacy and ornament.

Yes, the brilliant colors often attributed to geodes
are a result of the chemical impurities within crystals.
Many gems are in fact simple quartz crystals
that have been colored by the environments in which they form.

Amethyst gains its color from an iron impurity.
Citrine,  similar in color to topaz, has an iron impurity and was raised to a high temperature during formation.
Rose quartz has trace amounts of iron, manganese or titanium.

And this is a parable of our lives, isn’t it?

Like Jesus spoke in parables, paralleling the spiritual and physical worlds, God convicts and teaches me through similar daily events.
Each of us ….
we have impurities ..
the paths we have chosen
the trouble we have encountered
that has formed the pattern in our lives.
Ripples, bumps and texture …
Leeching, infusion and crystallization …
one experience after another …
layer upon layer …
these colors and textures
make us the people that we are .. beautiful, original, unique.

I say it over and over

I am who I am
                                          ….. because of where I have been.

I would not change many things. I would do things very similar, if I could do them over again.

I would not have a heart for the lonely … had I not spent years in solitude.
I would not embrace joy so heartily … had I not walked a path of hopelessness.
I would not enjoy experiencing passion so richly – its depths and highs –
had I not felt the numb grip of empty my soul.
And each of these experiences are, at least to some degree, a result of choices that I have made ….
impurities that I chose to bring in or allowed to remain a part … of my life.

Yes, these colors
this spectrum of colorful life beauty
is made possible by the impurity from within and the influences from without
that, when sometimes heated and when wonderfully illuminated, can be stunning all the more.

May HIS light brightly shine within us
that the pattern of who we are
can be richly appreciated
with all of its beauty – blemishes, texture and pattern.

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