For this meditation each participant will need a small pebble to hold.

Look at the seemingly insignificant pebble you are holding in your palm. You could easily pass by this little thing, or not notice stepping on it. Look closely at the color, the pebble's shape, size, and texture.

Imagine the amazing journey this small bit of creation has taken. You are holding in your hand a piece of stardust from billions of years ago. The elements of this small pebble have come from somewhere in the universe. A star composed of gases exploded and was strewn into space; it eventually formed hot lava that became the planet we call Earth. Ever so slowly this mixture became solid, creating an outer crust on the planet. This crust developed into solid layers of rocks composed of minerals.

What you hold in your hand is some of the earliest part of our planet. Look closely at your pebble: Where was this pebble's first home? How many homes did it have? Was it part of an upheaval of minerals that shaped into a mountain? Did it experience being within a volcanic eruption? Was it at the bottom of a lake? In the seam of a glacier? Did a river carry it along for thousands of miles? Has it been washed out from a dark cave? Pause for a while to think about the long history of this seemingly insignificant thing.

This pebble has known a journey of dissolving, joining, shaping, becoming part of a solid, large form and then a smaller and smaller one. It has known a lot of history in its expansive life. If your pebble could speak, it would have a lot to say to you. Listen for a moment to what it might speak to you if it could.

What you hold in your hand may seem dead but it has its own life, a small electromagnetic field of energy. You cannot detect this but scientists know it is there. Pause to look again at what you hold, an invisible, unfelt energy that carries an ancient history filled with stories.

Lift the pebble to our cheek. Let its sacredness touch you. Welcome your union with the long-evolving history it has known. This little pebble is allowing you to touch a star.

Bring the pebble away from your face and down to your lap. Continue to hold it in your palm. Give thanks to the Creator for its existence and message, for how it tells you of the sacredness of even tiny, seemingly inert things.

Take the pebble with you and place it in your home or office where you can behold it when your sense of wonder and gratitude weakens. Let it remind you of the sacredness of everything that exists.

Joyce Rupp in Prayers of Boundless Compassion