We did a lot of hiking on our recent trip to Utah’s national parks and monuments. Cairns mark the trails, there being no big trees to post marks on as in the East. A cairn is a pile of rocks of different sizes and shapes, curiously balanced and tall enough to be visible.
Balance in my life is something I have desired but often found elusive. I have wondered why cairns don’t fall over. I imagine that each rock is in a certain relation to the others and is held by the force of gravity. Maybe a comfortably or neatly balanced life is an illusion and our lives look more like cairns–with an overemphasis on this at one time and on that at another, and with the balance coming from our grounding in the One who upholds us.
For me the cairns were very necessary. We were walking on and over large expanses of rocks, so there was no well-worn path to follow. I had no sense of the direction we needed to go to get to our destination, to say nothing of the existence of impassable canyons and other ways to get stuck if we went the wrong way. And one misstep on the special desert soil would destroy what had taken two hundred years to develop and helped to keep it soil and not sand easily blown or washed away.
Again there were spiritual lessons to learn. One, I can walk anyway I choose, but I may end up at dead ends or cause a lot of damage, to me or others. Two, it matters who guides me. Three, to get to what matters to me, there is a way. Following it brings joy.
I also found that generally I was able to see only one cairn at a time. I had to trust that there would be another one and look for it after I passed the one cairn I could see. Thinking I knew where the trail went often got me lost until I went back to the last cairn and looked again for the next one. God often shows us only one step at a time. To walk with God requires trust that the way is there and that God will guide us.
Which aspect of cairns speaks to you most at this time?
In whom, or what, do you find your grounding?
May I walk in Your Way and listen for Your guidance.
For further reference:
“Our life is love, and peace, and tenderness; and bearing one with another, and forgiving one another, and not laying accusations one against another; but praying one for another,and helping one another up with a tender hand.” (Isaac Penington, 1667.)
“. . . knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us. . .” (See Romans 5: 1-5.)