A Beautiful Bucket of Rocks

by Catherine Capra-Leaf

CathyRainbows, crosses, eagles, kaleidoscopes, red shoes; they are all symbols of hope for me, and hopefully they have touched your heart too. We all walk a planet full of hopes and dreams. We all have been touched by beautiful moments in our lives, and have all had those moments that shatter us. Sometimes the moments can shatter our character if we let them, or if we are lucky, the good moments can mold our character into something we never thought we could be.

“One day at a time” is a cliché that I hear from friends and family. It’s the only cliché I can actually stomach. I like it. Perhaps that is why I look to sunrises as such a spiritual experience. It brings me a new day, beautifully. Every day they are different, and are created from such a miraculous pallet that they bring me to tears. A Profound Blessing for me.

Year three. My feet will have had to plant themselves on the floor every day, 1095 times to be exact. Sometimes they land on hot coals, and sometimes they land firmly on a wood floor. I consider it a victory every day. I know that you have too. We all have those hot fiery coal mornings; no red shoes in sight.

Choices. Now there is a trillion and two clichés for them. Perhaps because it is the most important and Profound Blessing that we have. Sometimes choices have come easy for me, and sometimes I run like a wild animal for them. But there they are, demanding us to make them.

It was a beautiful July day on the shores of Lake Superior. Three girls with buckets, collecting rocks that bedazzled them. Mike and I sat on a blanket and watched them closely, while we took in the beautiful landscape, and listened to the waves crawl over the black boulders and kiss the shore. Little feet would run our way and show us the amazing jewels that they had found “bucket-worthy”.


“Dad, look at this one, it’s got a hole in it! Dad this one looks like a face!” He was every bit of a rock hound as they were and would sift through all their treasures and celebrate them, as he patiently looked through the buckets. It is a moment that I remember in my heart every time I visit there.

Last week, I found the bravery to go down into a closet and look through pictures. I wanted to dabble in the box of pictures just a little bit. Stick my toe into the water if you will. A big ol’ box of memories, and I decided I needed to try. Pictures, artifacts, and mementos were something that I could not look at. I could not embrace the tangible things as the hole in my heart was too big. I opened the box and saw stacks and stacks of pictures, Mickey Mouse hats, a stack of Valentine’s Day cards wrapped in string; mementos collected from vacations who sole intention was to keep the memories warm. On the bottom of the box was a little velvet bag and written on it was “North Shore Trip 92”. I opened it, and in it were four gray smooth rocks. He had saved them from the trip and had painted a word on each one: Faith, Hope, Choice, Trust. It was a defining moment in my life when I saw them and it was a message for me as to how to live my life. Alone. A way to put my feet on the floor every day. It was a piece of him, a tangible piece of him that finally felt warm.

So on day 1,096, my feet will be firmly planted on the floor because I “choose” to live my life with “faith” for better days, “hope” for happiness in my life, and the “trust” that all of my memories should and could be kept warm. Rainbows, sunrises, kaleidoscopes, eagles, crosses, and red shoes; all things given to me in the last 1,095 days, because he knew that I couldn’t find the rocks yet. Thank you, Michael. I have now found my tangible memory. And I now know that there are buckets full of memories still left to find, to remember, and to treasure.book

About the Author: Catherine is a lifelong resident of Minnesota. She graduated from Mariner High School in White Bear Lake in 1976, and attended the University of Minnesota, Duluth. She was married in 1979 to Michael Leaf, and has three daughters, Jennifer, Kimberly, and Heather. She has worked in the White Bear Lake Public Schools as a paraprofessional for 23 years, working with special education students. In her spare time enjoys painting, and her new found love of writing. Catherine if the author of Profound Blessings.

Helping others who are experiencing difficult life circumstances to find strength, power, and bravery is a main focus of her life now. She continues to write stories to inspire and encourage people to find healing in their own lives.

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