There are cairns along the lakeshore.
It has become something of a phenomenon here in my hometown. The rock wall that helps prevent erosion has somehow become a mantle to feature the artwork of locals and tourists alike. Smaller stones and pebbles are chosen with care, balanced, and stacked on the boulders with a glorious backdrop of Superior and sky.
Traditionally, cairns have been used as landmarks, memorials, graves, or trail markers. I have heard it suggested that locally, our Native Americans used cairns to mark the lakeshore also, so as not to lose their bearings in winter. In Marquette today, it seems to be more about the beauty of expression and the challenge of balancing stone upon stone.
It reminds me of the stories in the Old Testament. It always fascinates me to read something like this:
From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord.
All throughout the early pages of the Bible we read examples of men pausing from their lives, from their circumstances, and building an altar to worship God. Often, the place was named. It is how we know many of God’s attributed names. For instance, the name Yahweh Yireh—or Jehovah Jireh, for those attached to the J—was revealed on the mountain when Abraham was about to sacrifice his son Isaac and God stopped him. God sent a ram to take the boy’s place. Abraham sacrificed the ram and worshiped God there and called the place “The LORD will provide.”
We are building something, you and me, every day. Each choice we make, each word we speak, each thing we do is a stone we balance along the lakeshore. The question is not whether you are building; the question is what you are building. Are you building a wall between yourself and those who disagree with you? Those of a different faith? A different nation? A different skin color? A different gender identity? A different stance on abortion? A different education level? A different political party?
I want my choices and my actions, my attitudes and my words to serve both practically as landmarks and guideposts for others who must travel the treacherous lakeshore, as well as beautifully for those who are simply admiring the waves. I want to build remembrances of what God has done in my moments of great need. I want to speak His name in reverence and gratitude.
I don’t want to build a wall. I want to build a cairn.