Did you ever see a toad jump into the swamp or throw a rock into the river and appreciate the concentric circles from the ripple effect? Country kids learn very early how even the smallest of things influence what’s around it.
In addition to water, we can also see concentric circles in wood. It’s amazing how each ring tells a chapter (or year) in the tree’s story. One particular tree that could have a novel was the historic Webster Sycamore in Webster Springs, WV. It was not cut during the 1920-50’s timber boom but was left standing as a testament to the virgin forests that once covered the entire state. When my kids were little we visited Big Sycamore Park and had our photo taken with the natural celebrity, and like all special things, we miss it now that it’s gone. The tree had to be felled in 2010 due to its unsafe condition but in its heyday it stood 112 feet tall with a girth circumference of 25.75 ft. It dated back to 1508, making it over 500 years old. Imagine the story it told in those circle lines!
Dart boards, targets, simple garden onions and planetary orbits around the sun are also concentric circles, but still the most common are water ripples. The “ripple effect” is actually a theory that occurs when an initial disturbance spreads outward to disturb an increasingly larger portion. Here’s a family vacation story that gives the theory credence. We were enjoying a break from the New Jersey beach and decided to go shopping. Jeff was in charge of our son who was only two, while I chose our daughter who was slightly older and a better shopper. As we made our way through the sea of bathing suits, our son darted in and out of the circular clothing racks like a quick elusive sand crab. I could tell my husband was having a difficult time keeping up with him but I didn’t look back—until I heard a loud desperate “WHOOOOOAH!” Guessing it was coming from my crew, I slowly turned around and saw Jeff feverishly struggling with a scantily clad mannequin our son had pushed over. His steely eyes of determination told me our family could still walk out with a sliver of dignity-- if only she didn’t touch the floor! And so they “danced” like Whirling Dervishes. Onlookers gasped as he made his heroic Super Bowl save. I laughed until I cried, because I’m supportive like that. As we herded our troops proudly out the door, I stole a glance back and noted the forlorn mannequin’s bikini top hung down around her waist and her disheveled wig was sideways! Yes, sometimes a disturbance spreads out and affects what’s around it.
In Beth Guckenberger’s book Throw the First Punch she writes about brave biblical David, who threw a stone which didn’t disturb water but still caused an epic ripple effect. With it he slayed the giant and saved his people, and preserved the lineage of Jesus. Guckenberger says, “When I think about the stone I can throw, I inventory the gifts, abilities, resources, experiences, and tools in my hand I can raise against our enemy (satan)” What “rocks” do we possess that could cause a ripple effect for generations of purpose?
Usually we think of the initial disturbance coming from an outside source, i.e. a two-year-old or a stone thrown. But recently I photographed our now grown daughter in the middle of the pond and considered how in life’s circumstances, sometimes it’s actually the thing in the middle of the situation that can move to cause a ripple effect. What if, with the slightest movement, if we are brave enough to move, we might cause a life-altering ripple for good? So wherever change is needed—let’s put on our muck boots and step into it…and may the resulting concentric circles tell a new story.
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Janet Cowger- Fliegel