There were stones along the beach as far as I could see. They stretched out into the water a little way—so many stones to be searched through and discovered. I walked through the cold water, head down, searching. I spotted something, bent down, reached through the water, and picked it up. Suddenly, I was no longer a 25-year-old woman anymore; I was a little girl collecting stones on the playground.
This little girl would walk the edges of the playground looking for stones; this was her escape. She didn’t mind walking the playground alone, because for just a few moments all her worries melted away as she walked head down, looking for something that might grab her attention. She was at peace.
Eventually, she noticed she was alone. She began to feel the isolation as all the other kids played together. Standing there alone, she began to feel like the weird little girl. When she arrived home with her collection, her parents would ask, in an annoyed tone, what she was going to do with all the stones. This only solidified her feelings. The desire to be accepted began to outweigh the peace, and she stopped collecting.
There I stood as a woman, feeling like the weird little girl. I felt ashamed for spending so much time walking along the water’s edge looking for stones. I apologized to my husband every few minutes, because surely he was annoyed, as the little girl’s parents had been. I felt all the wounds the little girl had carried on the playground, and the wounds I had carried for her since. Tears rolled down my face, as I came face to face with that little girl and all her pain.
I grieved and cried with her. We sat together in the pain, and I listened. She had needed someone to walk alongside her on the playground and admire stones with her. So, that is what I did. I had her join me as I continued searching along the edge of the water. I celebrated with her when I found something beautiful. Slowly, our sadness lifted, and the peace returned, as we marveled together.
Then my husband, whom I had been anxiously apologizing to, joined me. He walked alongside me as we both searched. He would excitedly share his finds with me and I would share mine with him. He wasn’t annoyed; he was happy to marvel with me. The loneliness began to fade as he walked with me.
As I continued searching, I glanced down the beach. I saw a number of individuals, couples, and families walking, heads down, searching, just like me—just like the little girl on the playground. We exchanged smiles and short greetings. Some of them even stopped to ask about my finds, and we would fellowship over these small objects. I felt accepted and understood in ways I hadn’t all those years ago. I no longer felt like the weird little girl.
On the edge of this beautiful lake, this little girl got the care she had needed. She had someone walking alongside her. She had people marveling with her. She no longer felt like the weird, isolated girl on the playground.
She felt peace, and with that, she began to fade.
I continued walking along the beach, with my husband by my side. Eventually, I realized the little girl was no longer with us. She had gotten the care she had waited so long for, and she had no reason to stick around. I was happy for her. I celebrated the healing she had experienced…the healing I had experienced.
Healing can happen in the most unexpected places as long as we are willing to engage with those wounded parts of ourselves. Sometimes it brings us face-to-face with a little girl on the playground. Maybe it brings us face-to-face with a heartbroken, teenage girl. It can even bring us face-to-face with the woman we were just a month ago. Engage with her. Sit with her. Weep with her. Let her know you are listening. We have the power and ability to provide care to those most wounded parts of who we are. It is such a beautiful communion to experience.
My collection now stays, displayed on my mantle. I often stop to admire the stones from all my travels. As I do, I smile, because I know the little girl on the playground would have loved them.
Morgan Green believes in the power and sacredness of women communing with one another. As a therapist, she is honored to walk alongside women from various seasons of life. She can often be found covered in flour and enjoying a nice cup of tea. Morgan and her husband, Mark, enjoy a beautiful life together in Georgia.