I have a moonstone sitting on my desk. It’s an ordinary-looking hunk of milky-white rock, smaller than a quarter, and a little investigation confirms the ordinariness of it. Moonstone is feldspar, which is arguably the commonest rock on the face of the earth. Maybe 60% of the earth’s crust is feldspar. Even the name indicates its commonness: it’s from the German feld (field) and spath (rock without ore) — in other words, “worthless field rock.”
Which is exactly what it looks like…unless the light hits it just right. As I sit at my desk, the moonstone is sitting at just the right angle so that the light from the window makes one end of it glow a brilliant blue. If I hold it up, domed side toward me, I’ll see a reddish-orange plane deep inside the stone, if I can catch the light just so. The effect, in both cases, is called adularescence, and occurs because two different types of “worthless field rock” have intergrown in layers, internally reflecting and refracting the light. But you have to get the angle just right to see it–any little movement makes the colors change and shift like a tiny aurora borealis, or vanish altogether, and it’s back to being an irregular milky-looking lump of rock.
So that’s the answer to the question, “What is it?” But…why is it? What sort of world do we live in, where God takes two different types of the commonest rock on earth, and combines them to make a gemstone?
What sort of world is it, where God takes two different types of ordinary people and combines them to make a reflection of Christ and His Church — a marriage?
The sort of world where the ordinary stuff was spoken out of nothing, is sustained by that same Word, and is, well, magical. It’s the sort of world where an irregular lump of white rock is a means of grace, an aurora borealis that I can carry in my pocket to remind me how I should treat my wife.
Hematite is not as visually interesting as moonstone. Even with a high polish on it, it’s still a uniform, opaque, reflective grey. But if you can get it hot enough, you can separate out the impurities, and shoot air through it to make steel. Steel makes all sorts of useful things: springs, hinges, hammers…you name it. I have a little hammer I inherited from my grandmother. It can’t weigh more than 5 or 6 ounces, but she was a small woman, and she wanted something she could keep in a kitchen drawer for small household tasks: driving a tack, tapping in a small nail to hang a picture, like that. I also have a 20-ounce Estwing straight claw hammer with a steel shaft and a blue rubber handle. It was a birthday gift, back when I was doing construction work. I wanted something that would suit the type of work I was doing, and that was it. That hammer swung like it was part of my arm, and I could sink 16-penny nails, tap-Bang-BANG. If I’d had to use Grandma’s kitchen hammer, I could drive maybe five nails a day.
It’s the sort of world where having the right tool for the job makes a difference.
I still have that blue-handled Estwing. I’ve owned it for more than half my life, and it’s stained and a little rusted from use and abuse, but it still works as well as it did the day I first picked it up. It lives in my tool kit, which lives in my bedroom closet.
Suppose I’m out somewhere without my tools and I need to drive a big nail? A quick inventory of my pockets turns up a cell phone, notepad, two pens, wallet, pocketknife, and that little chunk of moonstone. Not promising, is it?
Suppose I decide, well, rock is hard like a hammer, let’s give that a try. So I try to drive a 16-penny nail with that little piece of moonstone. How is that going to work out? When I’m done, the nail won’t have moved very much. On the other hand, the stone will be chipped and cracked at least, if not shattered into pieces, and its value as a gemstone lost.
It’s the sort of world where trying to substitute one means of grace for another often doesn’t do the job, and damages your ability to enjoy what you do have.