There were six of us piled into our rental car. We had just hiked on some of the most arid land I had ever seen. To make matters worse, we had one of those friendly guides who kept saying, “oh, it’s just a little bit farther” and would point to a hill in the distance! When we had survived the hike and were finally back to the car, all we wanted was water and something for lunch!
Following the directions from our enthusiastic guide, we headed off to a get food and a drink, and we made a wrong turn! But, as I look back on that mistake, I can hear the end of the Robert Frost poem that says “that has made all the difference”. For we came up over a dune, and as far as we could see, there were hundreds, perhaps thousands, of cairns stretching across a wide beach and down to the shore of the Atlantic Ocean.
A cairn/kern/n is a pile of rough stones built as a memorial or landmark. I had never known what the stone towers were until a friend talked of building one as part of a retreat. She said that for her it marked a time of renewal of her faith.
The six of us found individual rocks on the beach and a piece of beach glass. We built a cairn together on that day when we got lost. At the time, for me it represented our friendship and love for each other. As I have thought back on that day, the cairn also represented something else for me. It had been a hard few months for many in our family circle. I needed something to build, to see, to touch.. I needed a reminder that it is God who is faithful. I put some stones from that beach in my pocket. With some of my favorite stones from other beaches, I built a little cairn on a shelf in my kitchen. Every time I see that little pile of rough stones, I am reminded of that day, of those dear friends and of our God who does not fail.