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Kicking Rocks by Gary Williams (from Seniors Quiet Time Miscellany)


One day a nine-year-old boy and a man began a walk to the beach. The man’s body was on vacation, many miles away from home and business, but his heart was still business-blinded. He thought his duty was to make sure that he and the boy got to the beach efficiently. This man wanted to hurry.



The nine-year-old had a less pressing agenda. He found a small rock and began kicking it down the road. It took effort to keep the stone ahead of him, but the boy saw no reason why the rock could not keep them company on the way.


"Come on, now!" the man scolded. "I don’t want to wait for you to kick that rock!" Resignedly, the boy kicked it to the side of the road and began walking silently beside his father. Suddenly the father stopped. We cannot say why.


Perhaps he just then realized that the beach was not a board meeting or that sunshine is enjoyed best without a sundial. Maybe the eyes of his heart caught something in the face of the boy. Or perhaps just then his own boyishness flashed to the surface.


We know only that he turned to the boy and said, "How ’bout it if I help you, and we kick it together?"


"O.K.!" said the boy, and he quickly retrieved the rock.


Soon four feet were scuffling in the dust of the road and the man was trying to show the boy his idea of a "good kick." And somewhere in the magic of their slow and halting progress, the man and the boy became father and son. They discussed the best way to kick such a small rock and experimented freely as they passed it back and forth between them. They shouted unabashed praise and admiration at each other’s well-placed kicks, and laughed at the other ones.


And the father discovered anew that morning what the boy had known all along. Kicking rocks can be fun. Fun is not complicated. It need not be expensive. All you need is a road and a rock.


Companionship is not complicated. It need not be expensive. All that is needed is something to share and someone to share it with. The father did not solve any major problems that day, and the world may never know about his walk to the beach. But for a moment, there were two less troubled hearts in the world because a father kicked at a rock with his son.


Perhaps some of that good continues yet. This world needs more boyish fathers and fewer businessmen. It needs fathers willing to kick rocks with their children. And children willing to teach them how.