We serve the Veterans every Thursday, and since my students seem to have this covered quite well tonight, I didn't bring jambalaya and instead brought my shiny silver treasure chest of lucky rocks.
The Veterans - like most people - were thankful for the gesture, if not the actual gift, and took childlike pleasure in picking their lucky rock.
Some took minutes to decide, others closed their eyes and grab one quickly. There is no wrong way to get a lucky rock.
After they pulled out the rock, we discuss what it means and what blessings it might remind them of --- this for wealth and abundance; this for love; this for freedom; another one for creativity; another one that helps you let go of things.
The first rush of people to dinner was trickling to and end when I offered a rock to very well dressed gentleman I had not met before.
Unlike every single other person I've ever offered a rock to, he said no.
OK, he didn’t just say no, he shook his head and put his hand up rebuking me, declaring I cannot accept your rock! do you know who I am?
I introduce myself (I'm Melissa....I'm here with my students... I was just sharing these pretty stones sir….)
He pulls a faded, laminated card from his leather wallet that has names and titles written in exceedingly perfect handwriting in faded brown ink.
Without my glasses I am helpless and so I look from the paper back to him.
He tells me he is ordained and he cannot accept my magic and that I should be reminded that God is only in spirit and in nothing on earth.
While he tells me this and backs it with scripture (I try to follow, I really do - ) several people pass by and enter the dinner. I want to step away, excuse myself and offer the rocks to the other people.
He has me half cornered and tell me about the real problems in society today - people don't care about each other, people are all out for themselves. He tells me it was easier in the military, easier when you knew where you stood.
People streaming out of the dinner pass us by, gesturing thanks and bye, and I barely squeak out "see you next week!" and I can tell other people have questions for me, but it would be rude to leave my friend.
I close my treasure chest of rocks and give him my full attention until he sees someone he needs to talk to and walks away.
The last thing he told me was to remember that everything on earth, everything visible since the downfall of Adam and Eve was evil and that's why God is going to destroy it all. Remember that, young lady, he said, pointing his finger at me.
I remember. But I don't believe it.
At the end of the dinner there are still rocks left. I pick up a rock that is so perfectly beautiful it seems to be glowing. This rock has been waiting patiently for me for millions and millions of years, refusing to be picked by anyone else until this moment.
I tuck it by my heart and make room in my life for more blessings.