I read Listening and Communicating with Energy by Ginger Bowler this weekend, while I was at the Aiken children’s Book Festival. My friend describes it as a tutorial about working with energy wrapped up in a memoir about her teacher, herbalist and naturopath, Hannah Kroeger. The information works at a deeper level than you might expect reading it once. This morning I had a thread of an old country song float through my awareness, and the information from the book crystallized into a metaphor.
The title of the song by Billy Joe Shaver is “I’m just an old lump of coal, (but I’m going to be a diamond someday).” Shaver wrote it about his decision to give up drugs. The song was recorded by Johnny Cash in 1978. As it wandered through my mind, I thought about the way coal becomes diamond, usually described in science books as through great heat and pressure. But the people I know who are under great heat and pressure generally jut burn up or burn out.
Then I thought about crystals, that their primary property is the perfect alignment of the molecules. A diamond’s carbon atoms are arranged in tetrahedrons or octahedrons (four- and eight-sided solids) so that they can be cut to refract light in four planes.
What is the difference between black, crumbly coal and a sparkling diamond? The coal has other elements such as hydrogen, nitrogen and sulfur, but the diamond is pure carbon. The vibration of the diamond is much higher because its atoms are aligned with each other in a tight matrix. A cut diamond has had many pieces cut off to reveal the refractions of light inside it.
My thought was that as we work to live “above the line” as Ginger Bowler describes it, aiming for the better-feeling-thought and the lifestyle that is consistent with health, our atoms align with each other to reveal and refract the light within us. The pieces that we release are the elements of unhappiness: gossip, envy, jealousy, green, fear, violence, self-pity, addictions, unforgiveness, guilt.
As we release these elements of darkness, our light begins to shine through, and we can reflect the light we can now see in others. Even diamonds have imperfections, yet as we work to raise our vibration, our inner light brings out our individuality, our unique tone.
I may be just a lump of coal, but I’m working to be a diamond some day. Thanks, Billy, Johnny, and Ginger.