May Day 2008 saw the renewal of my faith in generosity. My tools were slight, seemingly insignificant: a bag of brightly polished stones and an off-kilter sense of humor. The stage, Powderhorn Park in Minneapolis.
Technically I suppose we celebrated on the 4th of May, but for close to nine hours my dear Jessie and I traveled back in time with thousands of hippies and yuppies and counterculture wannabes to the First: Beltane. And we partied like the Gods themselves had decided to grace us with their presence—I suppose they had, if one counted the giant puppets.
That day saw more love and fellowship than I’ve ever encountered outside of an anime convention. People hugged each other with wild abandon, flashing peace signs, getting their jewelry tangled in each others’ hair and dissolving into giggles on the unbelievably lush grasses of the park. Just days before freezing rain blanketed the ground with ice, but Gaia had certainly favored us with all her splendor in time for the celebration.
It was after Jessie and I witnessed our first hippie peace-hug-tangle-fall-giggle that I pulled out my little drawstring pouch of rocks and suggested we pass them out to people. Eager to get in on the good vibes, she agreed at once and we set about finding likely candidates for each of the wildly different stones.
The smallest acts of kindness can bring such joy. We first gave a stone to a man in a black suit, instantly recognizable as a witch by the pentacle he wore. I handed my clearest orb of quartz to him and, sage-like, he informed me that we could all use more of those good vibes I’d imbued it with. He blessed the both of us and went on his way—though we saw him not long after when Jessie passed off the second stone. That one was a lovely bit of agate, and it went to the man’s companion, a woman with a camera whose sharp eyes and kind smile picked the two of us out of the crowd and blessed us as well.
Jessie said later the woman planned to have the agate set and strung on a chain.
Another woman, out of her mind and likely already high on something, sucked on her stone for awhile before spitting it into her drinking cup and regaling us with tales of her youth and Woodstock. We left two of Jessie’s cigarettes with her—cigarettes that were probably destined for evisceration and restoration with a different sort of filling—and walked away with her praises and her blessings borne away on a strong breeze.
It’s funny how a tattered little bag of shiny rocks can bring so many good vibes. These “karma rocks” served to remind me that spreading joy can be as much about the motive as the action itself. That day, those people filled me with a peace I haven’t known for years. And at a time when my life seemed its darkest, it was a welcome source of light.