The Lesson of the Lapis Lazuli
By Contributing Author/Artist Carl Franz
By Contributing Author/Artist Carl Franz
I let my fingers trickle over the jumble of small blue stones on display at the York Health and Healing venue. The stall holder glanced over benevolently.
I read the label on the box again, rolling the strangely shaped name around on my tongue. ‘Lapis lazuli’.
A fascinating name, almost hypnotic in a sing-song kind of way.
I knew the lazuli part was something to do with the blue colour.
A colour like that, I thought, deserved such a wonderfully mysterious name.
I wanted one – no, two. More perhaps. I wanted all of them. All of their oceans, all of their stories and every single secret wrapped up tight under that polished shimmer.
The stall holder glanced over again, observing me with a practiced eye.
He was probably thinking: ‘Would that time waster ever buy anything or just stand there all day inhaling free dreams from my costly wares?’
He would know the answer. He most likely knew people just as well as he did his gems and crystals.
Feeling suddenly pressured I picked one out at random. Immediately questioning my rashness, I hesitated. Why that one?
I turned it in the light. The blue immediately responded; spreading out, racing over the miniature horizons.
When I held it steady, the tiny world calmed again, flattening out into an eggshell sky.
The fine lines of smudged white finally caught up and settled into comfortable focus. Flecks of wild glinting ocher quickly followed, skittering fabulous pixie dust over it all.
I took another and immediately chomped down on my lip in frustration. The damn thing was just as beautiful as the last.
What on earth was I supposed to do here?
I should listen. I should be still and listen.
The stall holder peeked through a conveniently placed gap in his stand-up advertising board. I had been dithering far too long. I had lost track of time again. What did that mean anyway? Time didn't leave any tracks, just fading vapor trails. Time was nothing but watery ghost paint passing through clouds of quietly shifting memories.
It didn't really matter what the stall holder thought.
Why was I even listening to my negative inner voice?
As I considered that, my fingers burst free of restraint and darted into the box again. Numbed by their audacity I allowed them free reign to plunder the selection on my behalf. A stone was quickly chosen. Then another. But neither my fingers nor I were fully responsible for the choice.
The stones themselves played their part in the choosing.
They pressed their cool concave cheeks into the spiraling loops written into my fingertips.
They felt along my curious curving paths and gently consented to accompanying me, at least for a short while.
My scrupulously selected lapis lazuli weren't expensive at all, costing no more than the coffee I’d had that morning.
As my loose change jangled into the fleshy cushions of the stall holder's palm he smiled warmly. For a moment I felt we were sharing a secret. Were we?
I ushered the stones protectively down into my pocket. The pair ran ahead of my fingertips, scrambling happily into the fussily dark seams.
When I turned to leave I was taken by surprise.
Somehow, while my back was turned, the walls had pressed inwards to peer over my shoulder.
I was crammed in. Collected together with many, so many people inside a single jostling compartment.
Time for some fresh air, I thought, and made for the exit.
Outside, the unseasonal warmth had replaced early spring’s rainy brew with a luxurious sip of golden summer.
Winter-muffled houses everywhere were cracked open at the windows and doors. Whole families had been tipped out (some still holding hands) into the streets.
There were even more in the park, scattered over the grass between the trees and daffodils.
I picked my way around their strangely laid out legs and elbow-eared heads until I found an uninhabited green island, buttoned with stubborn bright daisies.
As I squatted down, tall silhouettes reared up in a see-saw reaction. They strode by, within dangerous proximity, neglecting their swinging, kicking feet in favour of the search ahead for a place to rest.
Was I really one of those blind black lighthouses just a moment before?
At ground level, time and space lounged back, relaxing into a less formal relationship. Feeling wonderfully small, I sank without a ripple into the secret earth. I became a fallen pebble returning home from my journeys in the world of man.
I watched the trees growing at their faster natural pace. Their trunks stretched up above the stunted quick-stepping people. Branches eased outwards to tenderly cradle the eggshell sky with a living Fibonacci-patterned latticework.
The leaves silently parted, revealing large bird-shaped buds. The new feathered fruit swelled up and threw silver songs on fine white threads out into the lazuli sky.
I lay back, willing myself to float along with the misty clouds.
I reached for them, catching haplessly at their fading hems. They slipped like ghosts away from me, dissipating into secret whispers under the sky’s blue dome.
I padded out the thinning time with the rich plump present. Stuffing her with scenery and sound to fend off the clingy past and the future, already impatiently tugging like a child at my sleeve.
‘We have to go now, we have to go.’
I pleaded one last time with the earth.
Could I take at least some part of you with me?
But as I got up she simply flowed back down my body.
Despairing, I watched the last of her disappear under my shoes.
Resisting the urge to take them off in order to draw her sane sap up through the soles of my feet, I began to walk.
Everything seemed so strange at first but it didn't take long to forget and sleep.
When I woke up I found myself at home again.
I looked for a place to keep the lapis lazuli safe.
The window was the perfect spot. There they would wash clean under the hot scuffing brush of the sun by day.
By night the moon's cool polishing cloth would soothe them with gentle intuitive ointment.
I dug down into my pocket to get them. Unhindered, my fingers simply bumped against empty fabric. With my heart sinking I searched my other pockets. Except for a few orphaned coins they were also empty.
Finally I admitted my gemstones were gone. Of course; they must have slipped out as I lay light headed and dreaming in the park.
So careless. Such a waste.
I sighed and braced myself for another wave of self-recrimination. But it didn't come.
Something had changed. I reached tentatively into the surprisingly calm vacuum. Wriggling with mental fingers into a new mysterious extra pocket.
It wasn't empty. It was filling with a rare sparkling kind of curiosity. The sort that smiles and knits eyebrows with puzzled delight.
Where had my negative inner voice gone to?
(Did I actually miss my noisy bed fellow?)
There had been no careless waste. Nothing is ever wasted in the infinite pocket of the Universe.
And so the stones were not lost at all.
I knew exactly where they were.
They were in the park.
There, where the trees reach up to connect the earth to the eggshell lazuli sky; cradling it in a living Fibonacci-patterned latticework.
There, where the clouds spread out against the blue dome and whisper away to nothing.
There, where I am a pebble fallen to the ground; returned home.
What better place to keep my lapis lazuli safe?
That evening I picked up my shirt from the bathroom floor.
Something clacked in the breast pocket. It was the lapis lazuli.
They had returned to congratulate me.
My lesson had been learned.
A lesson absorbed into the spiraling name written into my finger tips.
The lapis lazuli and I had journeyed together through the world of man as agreed.
We had kept each other company, for a while at least, along the curiously curling path.
I folded my hand around them, feeling at home, deep inside the pocket of the Universe.
About the Author:
I am a retired engineer living in the beautiful countryside of Yorkshire, England. Often to be found striding along the country paths alongside the rivers, or ambling through the local woods, lost in my thoughts and happy as a lark. I enjoy painting and writing. Through them, I try to describe the spiritual experiences encountered during my daily and nocturnal travels. These experiences have always heavily influenced my life and now I have time to explore them and perhaps share my deep interest in all peaceful spiritual practices which celebrate and respect nature.
Carl Franz can be contacted at: