Thursday, March 18, 2010

Laying a stone.

I was watching Ken Burn's National Park series tonight. It is so well, well done. Evoking so much longing. It also reminded me of the wonderous beauties of some of the places I have been fortunate to go over the past few years. One of them a trip I took with my wife, Jayne, to the Grand Teton National Park.

We were headed up paintbrush canyon, heading to the backside of the teton range from the park entrance to the east when there was a worker laying trail. There is a need in the trail system to upgrade the trails, and for many of the workers, they camp back in the parks, and work longs day, chipping away rocks, and setting up and rebuilding worn trails. I tell you, it is a back breaking job. Long hours. Sweat. No showers. Heavy lifting.

We stopped to talk to one of the guys, and I asked why he did it. He was laying stones over a small stream bed, rocks that were the size of tires, each one having to be cut, and rolled into place.

He said something of the sort, like, I get the satisfaction of coming back here years later, to see the work, and knowing what I am doing will be here for many years to come.

I dont think I will ever forget that moment. In the midst of what seemed like a horrible job, I heard him explain the connection to the place. Putting something in place that will last many years, even beyond him. The cost was worth the pain.

I need that reminder these days. I want to live that kind of life. So much of what we do, so easily is washed away at the next rain. the easy stuff easily can be washed in the next storm. only to have to be rebuilt, replaced. and often it simply is lost.

I don't know how many boulders any of us can put in place in this life that are eternal. It is grace we can do any. We sure can't make a mountain, or build a entire trail system on our own. but if we grit our teeth, and we sweat it out, and pay the cost, I think we each have a stone or two to lay.

I am in a time of my life, where I am feeling the weight and the cost of placing a few stones in their seeminly right place in the path. Its not sexy like it was a few years back. I mostly feel the cost, the pain, and the weight of the stone, and the pain of my back.

Maybe that is what we all are given. To prepare the path, and lay the stones we are given to lay. Some of us think we have to carve and cut the whole trail, others just want to use the trail, without carrying any of its cost. and some are just laying down pebbles, that will soon wash away.

I imagine for that man, the greatest joy is coming back. Walking up that trail, and seeing those stones he lay. The enjoyment of remembering that season of hard work. Seeing its place and purpose in the scheme of it all. I need that reminder these days, and I am looking forward to the day I can walk the trail, and see the stones I helped cut and roll into place, along with the so many others who offered theirs along the way.

I guess for me right now, that is one of the great mysteries, where is this trail going? If someone came by and asked of where I am currently in the path, I would probably have to admit, I am not all that sure. Its headed in that direction, as I pointed. I know its good. I just am here, doing this part.

I think of that day, when we can walk that trail, as it is finally complete. Fully restored. It will be fully paved.