Here, I Raise Mine Ebenezer.

after a pretty busy and kind of difficult week, i found myself desperately in need of some self-care.  on a whim last night i decided i wanted to get out of seattle and drive the roughly 430 miles around the olympic peninsula scenic highway loop.  yes, i drove it alone. yes, it took me about 10 hours.  yes, my back is stiff and my knee hurts from pushing in my clutch 1000 times.  yes, i ate alot of cheese and blackberries.  yes, it was pouring down rain 9/10 hours of the trip.  but it was worth it.

sidenote: while i commend myself for taking a good chunk of time out of my day for self-care purposes (considering a year ago i hardly even knew what the phrase “self-care” meant, let alone how to actually do it), i do think i need to find some less costly and time consuming activities than driving for 10 hours straight through mountainous landscapes.  next time.

anywho, part way through my trip i landed myself at ruby beach on the pacific coast and part of the olympic national park.  this beach has large sea stacks that the waves were crashing against, and the whole beach is covered in various size, very round and flat stones.  as i was walking the beach i kept noticing stacks of stones (see below) in various places — on the beach, on the drift wood, etc.  whether it was one person who did this, or many, i have no idea.

the whole time i was walking on the beach, it was pouring down rain.  and my genius self did not bring my rain jacket or other rain-appropriate apparel (though luckily i did have an umbrella in my trunk).  after a few minutes i found shelter under one of the sea stacks where i saw this: 

for some reason, in that moment, seeing the word “israel” scratched into the wall and seeing these small stacks of rocks in random places on the beach, the song “come thou fount of every blessing” came into my head, specifically the line “here i raise mine ebenezer.”  i’ve always loved the imagery of that line, though i had little connection with an actual experience of raising an ebenezer.

the line from the hymn comes from 1 samuel 7:12-14.  the story in which these verses find their context is actually quite frightening.  but regardless, i like this moment of samuel marking and remembering that “thus far the LORD helped us.”  and so, an ebenezer is known as a “stone of help” or a “stone of remembrance.”  

while i was finding shelter under that sea stack, next to the etching of israel, looking out into the fog rolling over the ocean, i felt prompted to make my own little stack of rocks, mine own ebenezer and leave it on the beach.  i collected a few rocks, each of which represented to me things that i want and need to let go of right now — shame, control, helplessness, self-doubt, feelings of rejection and abandonment.  things i am trying so hard to work out.  i placed the rocks, carefully balancing each until my stack stood tall on top of the large rock nearby.  i went back to my dry refuge under the sea stack and thought, “thus far the LORD helped me. let me leave these things behind and remember Your faithfulness.”

after a few minutes of gazing at my ebenezer, i began to walk back to my car.  i started picking up some rocks on my way and stuffing them into my pockets.  i couldn’t just leave these things behind and not take something else with me.  and so i chose to take with me the memories of being understood, of the many gifts i’ve been given, of the strengths that have arisen out of me, of the mercy, grace and forgiveness i’ve been shown, of the presence of God which has always been with me.  

i brought these stones, these memories, home with me and constructed another ebenezer here at home where i can be constantly reminded of these things, for days when it seems that i have forgotten that He’s always been faithful to me.