of Our Better Nature
"Why Dads teach their
Boys to skip rocks"
It was an early morning in November
of 1965 on an inlet in the northeastern Chesapeake
Bay. A father, in his mid-thirties, was walking
with his son of six. Every morning for the last
year and a half the two had gotten up just after
sunrise to take this walk together, just to play
and be in the heart of nature living just outside
their front door.
Something was changing the
last few weeks though, as Dad had begun to hear
something different in the questions coming from
his son. They were more inquisitive and often related
to his dreams from the nights before. Today was
going to prove to be an important lesson for both.
In just a few minutes they
found themselves coming to the end of their creek
and almost to the mouth of the river. The young
boy bent over and picked up a rock, looked at it
for a moment, then threw it into the creek bed.
They walked a little farther, reaching the river.
Dad picked up a rock, looked at it for a few moments
saying "Good rock", then skipped it a
dozen times across the water. The young boy just
giggled. They stood there a little while longer
until the boy asked "Dad, how does the water
know where to go?" Smiling, pondering his reply
for only seconds, he said "Son, each drop of
water follows the drop that went before it. When
the world began the very first drop of water knew
where it was going. Since then, every other drop
knew it was best to follow first, then lead the
drops that would come behind it. Thats what
gives us creeks and rivers that become oceans."
"Really? Then dad, tell
me how do the trees know how to grow." The
boys father could see he was going challenge
him with a bigger picture, one question at a time.
"Well son, in each tree and plant on the earth
are seeds or seedlings that remember what it was
like to be part of the tree or plant they came from.
When they fall away as a new seed with a chance
to grow on their own they use what they remember.
Then they grow up fast and strong knowing that they
have to teach the same things to their seedlings.
Next thing you know you have either a forest or
As the young boy leaned over
and picked up another rock, it all seemed to make
sense. Then he asked "Dad, tell me the truth.
Where does the wind come from?" He then threw
the rock a little farther out into the river, then
turned for his answer. "I see the winds as
being the voice of God. You never really see it
coming, you never really know where it is going,
but you always know at some point in the day that
it will there. When it does it says hello to everything.
It says hello to the river, the trees, to the rocks
on the shore. It gives everything a reason to be
The boys father thought
that would probably be it for the questions for
the day, but the boys interest was only just
starting to build. "O.K. Dad, so why doesnt
the river stop when it hits a rock, or the wind
stop when it hits the mountains?" Dad reflected
for a moment, picked up another rock, saying "Good
rock", then skipped it a dozen times across
the water. "Son, I really love answering your
questions." After a short pause he said "Even
though they are the strongest, they rocks and the
mountains know it is important for them to know
when to let the rivers run by, and to let the wind
blow around or over them. They know they are there
to make it safe for the water to become creeks that
will lead to oceans and the ground safe for the
trees seedlings to grow. They know they are there
to help the others so they get a chance to feel
the winds blow everyday."
The young boy picked up another
rock, and held it. He asked "How do they know
that, Dad?" With soft eyes, the boys
father looked in admiration at him. What a challenging
gift he had been his entire life. And now the truths
were being laid. "Well young man, inside every
rock lies the truth of everything it has ever experienced.
It remembers every drop of water that has passed
by, every breeze that has blown, every tree that
gave it shade. It remembers what mountain it rolled
down from and what boys have picked it up and thrown
it into the water. Each rock remembers everything."
Surprised, the boy made a funny face at his father
and asked "Why do we throw them into the water
then? Do they like it?" "Oh yes! Said
his father, "They love it!" He then leaned
down, picked up another rock, and together they
threw their rocks into the water just a few feet
"Son, every time we skip
a rock across the water each drop kisses the rock
as it goes by, and the rock kisses back. Together
they are remembering all the beautiful things they
have shared in creating their world around them.
And the best thing, the rock gets to feel the wind,
kind of like when you feel the wind in your hair.
Then, when the rock gets to the bottom of the river
it gets to tell all the other drops of water all
the stories it knows about all the other drops that
have passed by too." Thinking of what to add
to this answer to provide a more lasting impression
the father continued, "And the important thing
to learn as you grow up is how to throw rocks so
they kiss the water more. Youll learn that
we dont throw rocks for us, we throw them
for the joy of remembering it brings to the rocks."
A few moments passed and it
was almost time to turn around and head home. If
they didnt leave soon the boy would be late
for school. But he had one more question. "Dad,
why do people forget to have fun throwing rocks?"
And in the memory of what he had learned some thirty
years before, he replied "Sometimes the rocks
remind people where they came from. Throwing them
would show them just where it is they are supposed
to be going. A lot of people just dont want
to know. They forget that there is real treasure
in knowing each step youve taken, everything
youve experienced in life, everything youve
shared with others. When theres no treasuring
the things youve experienced, good or not
so good, theres always trouble trying to figure
things out. If you dont look where youve
come from how will you ever know where youre
going? Or worse, what will you do when you get there?"
With that, the father bent down and picked up two
flat rocks, handing one to his son. The young boy
smiled, then they both turned to the river, and
together they skipped rocks.
Rev. Paul V. Scholl