A little gift landed in my inbox a few weeks ago. My friend, Ann, sent me a photo of our girls from first grade. Those little faces with snaggle-toothed, dimply smiles reminded me of a field trip that she and I helped chaperone that year. We went to the largest hard rock gold mine east of the Mississippi River, which is in North Georgia at the site of America’s first gold rush.
At the beginning of the school year, when we parents were signing up for classroom responsibilities, I rushed to put my name on that field trip. A gold mine?! Yippee!
I’ve always been a little bit geeky about rocks. I’m no scientist, but in school, I enjoyed the study of rocks, which is not actually called rockology like I would have thought but petrology. (Which sounds like the study of dogs and cats but I digress.)
Somehow the morning of the field trip, I managed to contain my excitement. After all, I didn’t want to embarrass my daughter.
On the tour of the mine underground, we learned that during the excavation period in the late 1800s, approximately 4,000 tons of dirt, debris and ore were removed from the tunnel system. Our guide talked about the geology of the gold belt, including quartz and pyrite formations, where early miners found gold.
I let the kids ask most of the questions.
We also learned about gold panning and gem mining. Gold panning involves putting a small amount of special sand into a pan and gently shaking it in water so the sand washes away and, hopefully, leaves behind pieces of gold. My daughter found nine flakes, which was exciting and fun but unfortunately not enough to make a dent in her college fund. Or even buy an ice cream cone.
My favorite was the gem mining, a similar process where you take a wooden box with a mesh bottom, fill it with sand, and dunk it into a stream of running water. As the sand washes away, it leaves gems behind.
Apparently it's possible to find emeralds, rubies, and sapphires, but the chances of that are slim. I did walk away with a bag full of colorful gems, though, including quartz, adventurine, citrine, blue calcite, desert rose, and a chunk of fool’s gold. These little beauties from the earth now sit in a small mason jar on my desk so I can admire and enjoy them.
As I look at them now, I can’t help but think about the process that revealed them. When the extraneous stuff of my life washes away—the stuff that won't last, like everyday busyness, distractions, and material things—what will be left? Will any gems be there?
It’s a sobering thought.
My hope for my life is this: that people will have glimpsed the love of God through my life; that my family and friends will know how much I love them; and that I will have used my gifts and resources to make this world a better place.
What about you? What sort of gems would you like to leave behind? Let me know.
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