Larry L. Oatman: Small stone becomes precious memento

By Larry L. Oatman - Guest Columnist

A dear young friend of mine was planning a 6,000-mile trip to the Holy Land with a group of 14 others.

I was somewhat envious, since my only out-of-country journeys were to Canada and Mexico. Palestine was a place I would love to visit, so I told her how delighted I was that she was making the 15-day trip.

I asked her if she would do me a favor and bring back a small stone or pebble as a memento from the Holy Land.

Two weeks ago, the group left from New York for the 12-hour flight, landing in Dubai, which was followed by a three-hour flight to Amman, Jordan. Because of the uncertain time we live in, I prayed every day for their safety.

Each day I followed them, using the internet’s Google Earth. I frequently use the computer program that renders a 3D representation of Earth based primarily on satellite imagery. It’s almost like being there, and it’s free.

I use it when I want to visit London, New York, Cincinnati or Kansas, and, like I said, it’s free. I’m always amazed how those developed countries have tall buildings just like our American cities.

So, staying right here in Lima, I could see what Emily experienced on her visit to Palestine and Jerusalem and the other places where Jesus walked more than 2,000 years ago.

Thanks to Google, I enjoyed their journey right up until I received an email that they had safely returned in New York City on Friday. They would make the long drive across Pennsylvania and be home Sunday for church.

Emily came up to me Sunday at church and took my hand. In it she placed a small grey stone. She said it came from Gethsemane, under an olive tree that was more than 3,000 years old.

I was amazed and thanked Emily for her kindness in bringing me the little stone more than a fourth of the way around the world. It’s such a tiny souvenir, less than a half-inch, but one that I will always deeply treasure.

To me it’s more than just a small grey stone, it’s a precious keepsake from the place where Christ walked more than 2,000 years ago brought to me by a dear young friend.

Our mementos have special meanings and sometime have a uniqueness all their own.

There is a story that’s told around Bellefontaine about a man from the state of New York, who worked in the Buckeye state for a while. For some reason, he was not fond of being transplanted to Ohio, even though it was for only a short time.

According to the story, he went to Bellefontaine, which is the location of the highest point in Ohio. After making local inquires, the New Yorker found the spot that was said to be Ohio’s highest location.

At an elevation of 1,550 feet, Campbell Hill, just two miles northeast of downtown Bellefontaine, is the location of the highest point in the state of Ohio. The summit is currently occupied by the Ohio Hi-Point Career Center.

The New Yorker had brought along a bushel basket and a shovel. From the exact spot of Ohio’s highest point, he dug up the dirt and shoveled it into his basket.

He triumphantly returned to his Empire State and forever claimed that the Buckeye State’s highest point was no longer in Ohio but now in the state of New York.

I don’t know if the Bellefontaine story is indeed true, but I think it’s a shame that in our mementos some collect them from jealousy and hatred, instead of hope and love. I will always cherish the small stone a friend brought me from where Jesus walked.

By Larry L. Oatman

Guest Columnist

Larry Oatman is a writer and lives in Lima.

Larry Oatman is a writer and lives in Lima.

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