In former days the heretic was not proud of being a heretic. It was the kingdoms of the world and the police and the judges who were heretics. He was orthodox. He had no pride in having rebelled against them; they had rebelled against him.
G. K. Chesterton Heretics
The little rock noticed three, no, four bodies washed up on the shore. They looked battered and bruised; the rock wondered if they were alive. A few hours earlier, there had been the sound of an explosion at sea; the rock wondered if the bodies were somehow connected to it. At any rate, the little rock realized that if the bodies–alive or dead–were left unattended, the tide would eventually wash them away. The little rock decided to help. It positioned itself between the water and the bodies, intending to protect them.
When the other rocks saw what the little rock was doing, they were scandalized. Rocks did not ever attempt to hold back the tide. To challenge the sea was considered the height of arrogance. The large rocks were especially disapproving.
“We are rocks,” they rumbled. “We stand in our place, firm and resolute, despite the moving of the waters. It is beneath our dignity to notice the sea. To stand openly against it would acknowledge its presence and its power. You are fomenting rebellion.”
The little rock had no desire to be arrogant or rebellious; it merely wanted to help those who could not help themselves. It considered appealing to the sea to halt its progress but abandoned the idea. The rock knew the sea was too old and set in its ways to change. So the little rock maintained its position.
“You radical, you rebel!” The large rocks bellowed. “You will pay for this. The sea will not be stopped. Its many waters will overpower you, and its waves will crash down upon you. It will fling you against our granite hardness, grinding you to pieces. And don’t think that we will move to avoid the collision; we are rocks. Nothing moves us, neither the sea or its storms, nor the mighty ships–and certainly not an insignificant little rock like you.”
The little rock said nothing but remained at its post. It was true what the large rocks said. It would be shattered in its attempt to stop the tide. Nevertheless, the little rock felt compelled to do what it could to help. It prepared itself for the onrush of the sea. Suddenly the little rock felt itself being pushed and jostled. It was other little rocks, climbing over and around and beneath it.
“We are going to stand with you,” said the other rocks. “We will help you protect the bodies from the tide.”
The small group of rocks built themselves into a tower, a determined bulwark against the sea’s mighty power. A huge wave crashed onto the shore, sending streams of water edging close to the rocks. However, one rivulet of water did not retreat back into the sea. Instead it traveled up the beach and encircled the small tower of rocks.
“We, too, will stand with you,” whispered the voice of the water. “We will capture the drops of water from the tide as it passes by.”
The little rock was too joyful to speak, but the sea roared in indignation, furious that any of its waters would defy its purpose. As soon as it could, it would swallow the rivulet into nothingness.
A team of searchers stood on top of a cliff overlooking the beach. One of them stiffened and then pointed.
“Do you see that?” he asked. “I swear I saw a flash of light.”
His two companions looked in the direction he was pointing.
“It’s only a gleam of sunlight reflecting off that tiny pool of water,” said one of them. “See? It’s the one around that small pile of rocks.”
“That’s strange,” said the first man. “The rocks almost look like they were placed there on purpose. Wait! Maybe it’s a signal! Let’s go down there.”
The three men picked their way down the side of the cliff. When they reached the bottom, they headed for the rock tower. As they drew closer, they spied the bodies on the beach. They began to run.