While backpacking in remote locations (where there is a presence of loose rocks) it will be likely you’ll see ornately stacked rocks. These stacked rocks are markers along the trail, assembled by others before us to help guide future hikers through various twists and turns of the trail.
These markers are called rock cairns, with each one seeming to have a character of its own. However, they offer more than just direction as to which branch of the trail to take. Rock cairns offer us comfort that someone too has walked through this area before, we are not the first nor the last to enjoy the beauty and at times pain of that trail.
Our lives, when studied and mulled over, also provide clear markers along our journey of when decisions were made and how circumstances altered directions. Pondering over our own life’s cairns is a practice we all too often make little time for. Yet, its importance for both our professional and personal life cannot be overstated!
Reflecting on our life’s journey reveals not only who we have become, but who we are still becoming.
As I glimpse into my own past a couple, large overarching themes take shape:
1) I am not alone in this journey:
My life has been inextricably shaped by the lives of others, be that my parents, mentors, or friends. Yet, it is also beyond just these familiar connections. My life has been shaped by countless brief encounters with those who I still cannot recall their name, but can recall their message that still rings in my heart. As others have shaped our lives, we too are shaping the lives of those who are around us.
2) Forgiveness is real:
My life is littered with past regrets. Foolish decisions I made out of rashness, meanness, jealousy, or ego. These lessons have taught me much, but above all they have shown me the love and grace of others….many times totally undeserved. If others are capable of such forgiveness and grace, shouldn’t I too be filled with a loving, kind spirit towards those who are also just trying to figure out how to live their lives?
3) There is a plan for my life!:
It can be easy to feel that the tires of life keep spinning. We are not going anywhere and it feels we become more stuck in the ruts we’ve created. We must trust in these times and moments that there is a plan for our life. A plan for our good. Yes, there is a plan for my life, but it requires me to learn from the cairns of my past to seek, find, and follow the cairns that will shape my tomorrow. We may not see clearly past the horizon, but have trust…there is more beyond.
In this rush of the fall semester, take time, ponder your past. Only then will we be equipped to capture our future!