This is a heavy stone and is therefore most likely to be from Cemetery Beach, next to Kioni, where the stones of faces are large and heavy and can resemble skulls. This stone, however, does not resemble a skull. It resembles Treebeard in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, with the piercing gaze and the beard like a ginkgo-biloba leaf. There is another magical creature here. If we take the left-hand side of the face to be a covering of bark, and the line of the mouth a branch, then we might discern a phoenix, such as Fawkes in Harry Potter, with its head upraised. The ginkgo-biloba leaf is now its tail feathers.


Meanwhile, in language, we know how important wood is to the Christian religion. Christ was crucified on a tree. The Cross is a deleted I, an I with a line drawn through it. He taught us in this way to subdue the ego’s selfish impulses, and to serve the other, through which we will find our own true identity. It is this submission that sets us free. Standing in one place. Learning to be patient and long-suffering, much as we may not like the treatment. For this reason, the tree gives shade, warmth, food and oxygen. It may even allow itself to be cut down. It is that sacrificial. “Tree”, which is obviously connected to “free”, is also connected to “three” – the Holy Trinity. It was Christ nailed to the tree, who came to act as a translator for us of the meaning of human life (this translation is called the Gospel). But Christ is intimately linked to God the Father and God the Holy Spirit – the Father who sent him, the Spirit who descended at Pentecost and enables us to breathe. Like the tree. Root, seed. The WOOD – Holy Trinity.


The texture of this face is remarkable. He looks like an army sergeant sporting a crew cut, or a boxer who has been through a few too many rounds and has since retired from the ring. The stone is unusually like a sculpture, it is not just a face, we have the whole head and part of the neck, it could almost be on display in a museum. And yet despite the ravages of time, of personal experience, there is a peacefulness about the face; he has been patched up, layer upon layer, one eye may be slightly bruised, the nose squashed to one side, and yet he is here.


Meanwhile, in language, we have seen how “earth” and “heart” are connected (as are “soil” and “soul”). Perhaps when we die, a part of us remains here. Certainly, in our earthly life, we invest a lot. We have seen the connection between “heart” and “fear” (two steps in the alphabet, addition of t). There is also the obvious connection with “hear”. For us to effect the short but difficult journey from the “head” to the “heart” (d-t, addition of r), we must open our ears and “hear” the Word of God. This is why you will find “see” in “seed”. But there are other wonderful connections that make me think they are deliberate. If we take a step in the alphabet (s-t), we will find “share” in “heart”. Isn’t that the purpose of feeling? We will also find “yearn” (t-y in the alphabet; physical pair h-n – a pair of letters that look alike). The letters are turned, our heart is aquiver, we catch sight of a rustle of feathers and follow it into the sky.

Flared Nostrils

What is this face with its white border, furrowed lines and flared nostrils? Its mountain or triangle, with a spade propped against it, drawing us to the closed left eye, which gives a sense of peace or tiredness. The mouth is a ledge, somewhere to place the feet, the nose something to hold on to with the hands. And up we go, step by step, furrow by furrow, until we are on the smooth surface at the top, able to look around. The jagged line will take us down again, the triangle formed by a path, where people, to avoid the angle, have created a shortcut.


Meanwhile, in language, there is also eros. The word itself spells “sore” and “rose”, it is in “horse” and “shore”. “Penis” is in “pencil” or “spoon”, while “bowl” is “womb”. This step in the alphabet allows us to connect “womb” with “wound” or even “world” (b-d, addition of u/r). We are brought into the world through eros, and the world itself is a kind of womb (a template) that provides a growing process. “Semen” is in “cement” – it is made to prevent the egg from detaching. And “egg” is an unravelled “o” away from “ego” – a new being, one that will have to find its way and avoid the pitfalls of “ogre” or “yoke” (g-k, addition of r/y). Eros is the preserve of a loving and committed relationship; we must beware of what our mind can conceive and go beyond this to contemplation. And, last of all, “tired” is in “tender”, the closed eye, the scaled mountain, the gentle submission.


A face is essentially two eyes to see with, a mouth to breathe, eat and speak with, a nose to breathe and smell with. The ears for hearing are on the side. Or a face is essentially two eyes to be seen with, a mouth to kiss someone’s hand and a nose to breathe and smell with (though it is not much good at either). The organs are divided into two – eyes, ears, nostrils – only the mouth is one. One might say that one is enough. Children place their thumb in their mouth when they are little, and that is why the reverse of “mouth” is “thumb”. These four forward-facing circles form the letter Y.


Meanwhile, in language, we are subject to the passions and may lose our “temper”. For this, we should “repent”. “Anger” is a “gangrene” and eats away at us, like another illness, “cancer”. They share the same letters (phonetic pair g-k/c). When we “repent” of our sins, the idea is not to “repeat” them, so in a way “repent” and “repeat” are opposites; a-n is not a pair so much as a progression. But there is also a cycle in life in the seasons: “winter” spells “rewind”, “summer” is “resume”. Each individual is a line, but creation is cyclical as God waits for our repentance. The same can be said of the I/the eye. When the eye is closed, it is a straight line (I), but when it opens, it forms a circle (O) – it counts down (1 to 0). We saw this with “live” and “love”. The same is true of “sin” – when the eyes are opened, we repent and “sin” gives way to “son”.