Recently, I have seen several folks posting pictures of stacking stones or rocks, ever so carefully, until each stone is balanced on the other without falling. Now this is probably a practice that has been around a long time, and I have just been out of the loop. Perhaps my attention has been directed towards it recently because of the many pictures I have seen, but I figured it had a spiritual meaning; and so I looked it up.
Actually, this rock stacking has several meanings. You can find it under "rock or stone balancing" or "rock or stone stacking" but its actual name is a Cairn. Maybe you knew this, but I didn't! Anyway, as it turns out, I was right in that it has a spiritual connection, but it also has a very practical meaning.
Apparently, Cairns have been around for centuries. Each stone that is balanced on the other can represent perseverence, thankfulness, an intention for someone, or anything you wish it to signify. But the physical act of the balancing also demonstrates patience and effort in finding that balance. The intention of picking exactly the right stone and seeing how one can (or cannot) balance upon the other takes time and persistence.
Another purpose for making these Cairns is very practical. It can help point a person hiking on a trail that they are on the right track. It is a marker that points you in the right direction especially when navigation is difficult or when a trail can become easily lost.
Finally, these stones remind us of connections with others. When you see these stones, you know that someone has been there before you - that others have taken the same path, searching for something (health, direction, purpose, or just the way home) - and that you are on the right track.
Wow! Now when I read about these Cairns and the meaning behind them, I thought how perfect and fitting it is to stumble across the symbolism of this stone stacking at this point in my personal life and in the direction of Merely Players. The past 8 months have thrown everyone in the theatre and arts for a loop and we feel unmoored - dare I say, directionless. How does one do theatre without a stage? Well - we adapted and moved our performance space to cyberspace; but is it enough? When will we be able to gather again? Will audiences become "Zoomed out"? Do we continue following in the same direction or do we...pivot?
Perhaps just the effort of persevering and patience, of doing the work, of talking and making an effort to communicate is enough. Art always finds a way like the blades of grass along the sidewalk. It pushes through because it has to. It is such a fundmental need of all humans to communicate and express oneself. So art won't stop; it will just make space where there was none before.
So while we wait to see what the next several months bring, we will continue to do the work. What that will look like isn't exactly clear. For us, there are no Cairns. We are blazing new trails. But perhaps we are setting the stones for those who come behind us. In the meantime, keep stacking.
Wishing you health and happiness for you and your loved ones in 2021.