"A rolling stone gathers no moss" is a proverb that has numerous connotations. One is that someone who constantly moves about accumulates few responsibilities (Publius Syrus).
Another meaning is that those who get around constantly never become rusty but continue to learn new things and maintain their youthful outlook.
Still another way of looking at the quote is that people who do not stay anywhere long never amount to anything -- nothing finished and nothing gained.
As I drove home from taking a child to school, my mind strayed to thoughts of how people act in life. One person can act youthful and see everything as being fresh and new, even though he is older. Another might be younger but have an attitude that's complaining and antiquated.
While contemplating this idea, I remembered the saying "A rolling stone gathers no moss." As I dissected the statement, I came to a different conclusion about its meaning. It was that a human rolling stone can gather moss. Everyone moves through life either staying in one place or numerous places -- both mentally and physically. You can attract, possess and accomplish nothing as you go, or a lot.
Mankind can gather all kinds of moss -- or baggage -- as he goes or he can rid himself of the unpleasantness in his mind, as he moves. Physical age does not determine how much baggage or moss you're carrying with you. Rather, what makes the difference is determined by how one deals with what he collects. He can continue to carry his worries, unpleasant events and painful memories with him always, or he can make the choice to discard the unproductive as he goes. In that sense he would indeed be like the original proverb that said a rolling stone gathers no moss.
If you roll a stone in the mud or any other kind of muck, the yucky stuff sticks to the stone. But you can get the sticky, muddy substance off the rock if you try. You can wash it clean; You can take it out of the mud marring its beautiful surface hidden underneath, or you can leave it there to continue being useless and ugly. We are so like that stone.
As I contemplated Christmas and the birth of Jesus I compared the event to the rolling stone and to the muck and worry that people can carry with them all their lives if they do not discard or cleanse themselves of it.
Faith in Jesus is the answer. Jesus was born so that people could leave the bondage of junk, addiction, rejection, mental anguish and physical disability behind -- like the rolling stone that constantly leaves behind whatever it picks up. The stone, by its very nature, tries to get rid of whatever attempts to cling to it as it goes. We need to learn a lesson from the quote and drop the emotional baggage that we carry as we go.
Regardless of our age or position in life is, we can shrug off whatever is holding us back.
Let the negative rot roll off our back so we can keep moving along staying youthful, bright and positive in our outlook.
Let us try to be like that rolling stone that gathers no moss instead of one that stays stuck in the mud. It's not what your situation is that makes you miserable; it's seeing no way out that's bothering you. This Christmas remember that Jesus came to show us a way of escape from the negative and provide hope for our future.
Ellen Shuck holds degrees in psychology, religious education and spiritual direction and provides spiritual direction to people at her office.