Rocks are so common here in the Granite State, our farmers sometimes say they grow stone.

I never tire of looking at stones; their faces, like those of old people, bear the texture of lived experience. Try as you might, you won’t convince me that stones are inert and lacking sentience. Having heard them dance, I know that stone-souls are just as lively as ours, only slower. When it comes to sitting Zen, stones are the real masters: is it any wonder I learned to meditate from one?

Given my fondness for all things rocky, it’s fortuous I live in stone-studded New Hampshire. Here in the Granite State, we have stone walls, stone bridges, mystery stones, stone faces, and even several haunted and famous tombstones. Here in New Hampshire, it’s natural to feel that stones are your neighbors: reliable companions who are stronger and more taciturn than even the toughest mountain man.

Although I’m not normally one to hug trees, I love the touch of stone. On my home altar, I have a smooth oval stone I claimed from a rocky shore along Lake Huron the same summer I started meditating. Black with a single spot of yellow-brown quartz like the “eye” of a buckeye, this “prayer stone” feels more comfortable in my hand than any mala or rosary. Touching stone is one way I feel grounded, like Buddha touching earth the moment before he was enlightened.

Stones, like people, have dark and alluring crevices; stones more than people keep their best secrets hidden. Just because stones are common doesn’t mean they are known or knowable, for even common things can harbor mysteries if they practice being both still and silent.