Spiritual Cairns on the Trail of Life

As you hike around Yosemite, you will often see small piles of rocks, called cairns, stacked by hikers that have passed that way before you.

Their intent is to mark the trail. Yes, at times visitors to Yosemite can get carried away and build too many of them, even on clearly marked trails (and those who prefer a more naturally scenic view will therefore knock them over). However, when used properly, these cairns can be a great help when the trail gets obscure because of some fallen trees, an overflowing stream, or snow that has not yet melted and has covered the trail. Getting lost in a National Park is not something you want to do. Even if large landmarks mean that you can eventually get going in the right direction, being off the trail can lead to dangerous areas or delays that lead to still being out when the sun sets. Cairns can be especially helpful when you accidentally make a wrong turn and end up lost on what you thought was the trail but is in fact an animal path.

Several times, I have come across these small piles of rocks and appreciated the fact that someone has walked this way before me, lost their way, but then was able to find the original trail again. Instead of just moving on, they took a little extra time to stop and create markers to guide others who came after them. They cared enough to create something for others to see in order to mark the way. As you reach one marker, the next comes into view, until you return to the trail.

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Every time you see a cairn, it’s like someone left a sign: “See this? It’s going to be OK. I got lost too, but I made my way through. Just follow these stones, one after another, and you’ll find the trail again. Trust me. I’ve been where you are, and you will get through this time. If you are hurt, you will heal. The sun won’t go down on you. I’ve created a path through the uncertainty. I’ve set these stones for you to follow. Just keep going, one at a time. Soon you will be back on your way, like before. Just don’t give up.”

It’s kinda like why I created Yosemite Summit. I too got lost once. I veered off the path. I needed some others to lovingly help me get back on the trail again. I too followed some markers left by others who had gotten off trail ahead of me. Godly, wise men who had hiked a bit ahead of me and left some markers for me to follow and taught me some life lessons about identity, priorities, family, ministry, and the things that truly matter. As a result, I changed from the inside out. So much that I didn’t want to just move on. I couldn’t. Instead, I wanted to take a little time to stop and set up some cairns before I moved on down the trail a new man.

Those cairns are four days spent every May in Yosemite, and I invite a small group of men to join me. Men who may feel lost, off the path, or who at least know they need to get off the path of hectic, busy, fast-paced ministry before it kills their very soul like it did mine not too long ago. I invite you to join me with the Rock of Ages next May at Yosemite Summit. It just may change you, too, before you return to the path.


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2 Responses

  1. Good post, I liked the way you developed your thought and how you applied the metaphor.

  2. Thanks – always love a compliment from a good writer!

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