Returning with a palm full of tiny wet rocks, she ceremoniously presented five to me,
Then raced away to join her sisters.
Pebble collecting done.
I took them in my hands, drawing in their earthy warmth.
My fingers caressing their imperfectness
As I began to line them up on the sand.
Their smoothness, crafted year after year by a merciless sea.
Some big and strong, like bonsai boulders.
Others thin as paper.
Some round as a bead.
Others perfect on top, hiding deep fault lines and cracks below the surface.
They spoke to me so deeply of friendship.
Where even the deepest flaws are seen as beautiful and perfect.
But intrinsically the same.
They were found, some laying in a groups, whole piles of perfect pebbles. Easy finds.
Some required sifting and shifting, sorting, trying on for size, testing for smoothness and fit.
Others lay beyond easy reach and required pursuing.
Some were delivered by eager children or picked up by a friend.
Others discovered at the bottom of the swimming bag, an inheritance from the last beach holiday.
And then there was the solitary pebble that lodged itself somewhat uncomfortably in my heel
As we started back to our campsite at dusk.
A reminder that tragedy and pain can also bring friendship.
Fifty beautiful tokens.
But not truly reflecting the people I’m honored to call friends.
Nothing to set them apart.
No colour or vibrancy.
And so came hundreds of tiny dots
to Fifty round stones.
Circles within circles.
A tribute to my deep belief we are all, all of us,
Searching for the Tribe who will honour us.
Recognise and protect us.
When I finished I loved them all.
All that is except one.
The one that was perfect in every way.
“It’s beautiful” said my daughter
“I think it’s the most beautiful one”
“But it’s not like the rest”
“The others are black and this one is orangey which means it doesn’t fit in”
And so it came.
The final lesson from the stones.
Friendship is not built on superficial beauty.
Friendship is built on underlying likeness.
Friendship is where we see our very best self reflected back.
People of great difference bound together by a commonality of values.
Ideals, goals, interests.
In the circle are forty nine stones.
Bright. Vibrant. Colourful. Interesting. Unique.
Not too beautiful.
They are my Tribe.
They are my friends.
They are the parts that make me whole.
And when it’s needed.
For one more friend.