December 7, 2009

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26

I’ve never been to the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona, but I just read an article about how it got its designation as the place where “trees have been transformed into stone.”

This area, on the edge of the Painted Desert and about 4 ½ hours from Tucson, used to be a floodplain with tall conifers. As the trees fell, they tumbled into numerous swollen rivers, and were eventually buried under several feet of silt, mud and ash. Groundwater laden with silica gradually replaced the wood cells, which slowly crystallized into quartz. Continental drift caused the land to rise, erosion stripped away the soft sedimentary layers, and voila—the hardened trees were revealed.

People became aware of these remains in the mid-1800s, and began to take chunks of the beautiful rock home as souvenirs. President Theodore Roosevelt set aside part of the landscape as the Petrified Forest National Monument in 1906, and it achieved national park status in 1962. George W. Bush signed legislation to more than double the acreage while he was in office.

Another park added to my must-see list!

The above verse from Ezekiel is a favorite of mine (and figures in the title of a romance novel tucked away in my files, waiting to be finished) because it presents such a graphic picture. Especially during this season, it makes me think of Ebenezer Scrooge, the mean, unfeeling skinflint from A Christmas Carol. With his “Bah, humbug!”, he’s the very epitome of hard heartedness.

But if I’m honest with myself, I have to admit that I too can be callous and insensitive. My heart turns to stone much too quickly when faced with a person who’s hurt me or makes my life difficult, or with unpleasant situations.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but lately there have been a lot of print advertisements for Smile Train, an organization that sends doctors overseas to fix children’s cleft palates. The photos in the ads are gruesome, and quite frankly, I hate looking at them. I realized recently that I’m starting to get mad because I’m constantly confronted with these images everywhere I turn, and I think, Well, there’s one place I’m never going to send my money, because these ads are really disgusting.

And then I’m ashamed of myself. You don’t like having anybody else’s problems shoved in your face while you’re relaxing in your nice home with a healthy smile? That’s right, Penny—ignore the needs of others because it’s upsetting to you. Don’t you think, maybe, their condition might be just a tad more upsetting to them??

Talk about your hard hearts!

And I pray, Lord, send that new heart and new spirit right away!

I’m looking forward to the day of my eternal “heart transplant,” when my too-often petrified ticker is permanently replaced with one that’s always clean and pure and soft, restored by and truly beating in sync with the Great Physician.


  1. Peggy says:

    In the United States the medical technology for repairing cleft lip and palate is so good that you rarely see anyone with a poor repair or bad scars. Just thirty years ago this wasn’t the case. Yet, even today, children all over the world live (and sometimes die) because of a very treatable birth defect, but lack of access to care. I really admire the teams who go to remote areas to treat these children, but I haven’t done my part, I admit. Thanks for reminding me that I don’t have to go to India or Bolivia or wherever to make a contribution and soften my heart.

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