If you follow me on Twitter, you might have noticed recently that I’ve been retweeting a lot of AMAZING images of beautiful crystals and minerals. I started following @geologytime and I’m obsessed. Look at some of these gorgeous pictures!
I just want to stare at them; I could for hours. They have hundreds of these types of pictures on their page, and as I scrolled through these images I had the thought, “Where do you find these?” I’ve never been out walking along a random hiking path and seen one of these radiant stones. I’ve seen a lot of rocks that are plain and brown and not very pretty. So where are these stones hiding?
Usually they’re harder to find because they’re underground, but they can be found in a number of different places depending on what types of minerals they’re made of. Let’s look at one specific example: azurite!
Azurite is found underground and is able to form when carbon-dioxide laden water seeps into an underground trove of copper ore. This interaction then removes some of the copper from the ore and the copper and water travel away from the original source and then azurite can grow in this new place. When this process is allowed to happen for a long enough amount of time, you get beautiful large deposits of this deep blue soft rock that look like one of these.
This rich blue color is just stunning. Unfortunately it is very difficult to keep. When you have minerals like this, many people want them polished and to use them for things like jewelry. That’s the next step, polishing the stone for display. With azurite, though, it must be kept in a dark place. When it is exposed to air, sun, water, it chemically changes into another mineral called malachite. That’s why so often when you do see a polished variety of this mineral it is often intertwined with the green of malachite like shown below.
No matter if it’s the raw form or the polished form, I find these stones to be mesmerizing. As I said, though, you wouldn’t just happen upon them on a random walk. These minerals are only found deep underground. Below is an image of a copper mine located south of Las Vegas, Nevada where some have been found. If I had seen this rock formation/pile of dirt as I was wandering the desert, I would’ve kept right on walking without a second thought. I would’ve never guessed there was so much beauty buried under there.
Geologists employ a lot of digging to find these beauties, then even when you find them they take a lot of work to become the stunning polished gems we see. To the untrained eye, this is simply an ordinary pile of rocks.
Speaking of ordinary, we are now in the 2nd week of ordinary time, though it is the first FULL week of this wonderful liturgical season. Most of the time people take ordinary to mean boring and not important. They see this as just a filler time in between the joyful time of Christmas and the sacrificial time of Lent. They are making a huge mistake. All who do this are missing out on something wonderful. If we just change our mindset and dig a little deeper, like the geologists, we can find something really special.
The Catholic Church has 3 years of readings, years A, B, and C. We are currently in the year B. That means the gospels during the season of Ordinary time come from the gospel of Mark. This is true for the weekday and Sunday readings. Mark is the shortest of the 4 gospels, but it is in my opinion the most ACTION PACKED! Mark doesn’t mince words or speak poetically. He tells you all of the amazing things that Jesus did in His lifetime in a very blunt way. You can count on every single day’s gospel reading to have a clear story to tell. Some of the stories, especially the Sunday readings, you’ve probably heard a thousand times, but I bet a lot of those weekday readings you haven’t. There is so much good material there to help us better get to know the person of Jesus while He walked on this Earth.
Lent doesn’t begin for another month, and I know that’s usually the time that you traditionally cut something out or add something extra, but I encourage you to add something starting now. I encourage you to be like the geologists and work a little harder this ordinary time. I encourage you to read the daily readings. If not all of them, at least the gospel. If we dig a little deeper during this Ordinary Time, there’s no telling what treasures we will discover.
Tomorrow’s reading (Mark 3:7-12) is a great place to start. It tells a story of Jesus and His disciples. Jesus has already traveled and cured many. He has become famous at this point. Because of these miracles, hordes of people are following Him, trying to touch His cloak, searching for healing. It is overwhelming. It even says He was afraid of being crushed by the large group. Most of the time we hear a calm telling of a single miracle that sounds so nice and pleasant. Picturing Him being run over by a mob is so very different. It’s a vivid picture for sure. Some artist’s depictions don’t seem to capture it as well as the words of the gospel (on the left below). The picture on the right is much more of what I picture in my head.
I invite you to sit with this reading, pray with it. What is God trying to tell you through it? Then I encourage you to do the same thing every day for the rest of Ordinary Time. I can almost guarantee that, if you do, this season of time will feel a lot less ordinary.