(You will find Part One of this series on gratitude here.)
Have you ever gone hiking and found those stone piles? They’re popular particularly on beaches or mountain trails. I suppose that’s where you find rocks. And solitude. They’re called cairns, and they have been used over centuries for various purposes.
Cairns mark a trail.
They tell people “This is the way. Don’t detour. Don’t get lost. This way.”
Cairns show where necessities or treasures are buried.
They say, “What you need is right here. The things you treasure are right in this spot. Don’t look elsewhere for what matters.”
Cairns stand as memorials.
They remind people of loved ones, won battles, divine intervention, or important days. They cause us to remember what has gone before by their very existence.
Cairns create identity.
In North America in particular, they can stand for Native American identity, a way of reminding others, and themselves, who they are and what matters to then as a people. They yell an echo to the landscape—“As long as this stands, I will not forget who I was made to be.”
Cairns could come in handy for Christians, too. Don’t all those purposes sound like things we could use?
- This is the right way.
- This is your treasure.
- This is where something amazing happened.
- This is who you are in Christ.
Those little piles of stone say some big things.
Stacking stones claims ordinary moments for God and asks others to notice the holy ground in their presence.
Samuel stacked stones as a battle victory memorial. (He called the memorial Ebenezer—“the stone of help.” So now you know when you sing that song what the heck an ebenezer is. It has nothing to do with Charles Dickens.)
Joshua stacked stones to remind the Israelites of their safe crossing over the Jordan River.
It’s not just stones, though. Look at God instructing the Israelites to put tassels on their clothes. What??? Why?
“When you see the tassels, you will remember and obey all the commands of the Lord instead of following your own desires and defiling yourselves, as you are prone to do. The tassels will help you remember.” (Numbers 15)
God knows that often we need physical reminders. We are visual people. We want to see, touch, smell, so we can remember. There is something about a tangible, visual reminder that jump starts the memory.
It’s why we have photo albums and snow globe collections and Dad’s old navy uniform.
We remember better when we can see and touch. God gets that. Thus, tassels.
I am not suggesting you put tassels on all your clothes. That gets a little tedious. And it gets you a lot of odd looks. Not to mention, goats at the petting zoo and cats will take an inordinate interest in you. (Don’t ask how I know this.)
But can you raise your own ebenezers?
- Frame a photo on your desk of something God accomplished?
- Put up a screensaver of something He gave you?
- Maybe make your own cairn—there are river rocks at the dollar store. White Sharpie, and you’re set. Write down a word or two on your rock of what God has done. Put them where you can see them.
- Use sticky notes to remind yourself of who God is, what He has done, who He has said you are. Stick them anywhere you will see them and be reminded.
Create any reminder that you can touch and see — out of whatever has meaning for you.
Raise an Ebenezer. It’s an easy way to remember and “thank him for all he has done.”
Next week: remembering with a Dollar Store piece of paper.