Almost every Sunday afternoon, I hike the Lake Shore Trail at Lake Norman State Park. Along the trail, there is a switchback which has a large flat rock situated on the point. One day I noticed someone had added a neat little stack of stones. It’s called a cairn. The word comes from a Scottish Gaelic word that literally means ‘heap of stones’. Since ancient times, stacks of stones have served as navigational markers to denote the path. I added a stone of my own, a sort of “Scott was here” marker for my hike.
The next time I was on the trail, I reached the same point and was saddened to see that the pile of stones was scattered. I restacked them. For months, the process repeated. I would stack the stones. In the ensuing week, someone or something scattered them. I would stack the stones again.
I’m guessing the stones tumbled at the hands of the many children who accompanied their parents on the trail, but they could have been the victims of a scampering deer or a mighty storm.
My spiritual life might have some similarities. When I pray or meet with my spiritual director, I rightly align the pebbles of my life. I remark the path. My spiritual cairn points toward the sky and sometimes provides directions to others passing by. Over time, however, the distractions of life and passing storms scatter these spiritual markers.
It is almost a sort of spiritual entropy. From my engineering classes eons ago, I still remember the Second Law of Thermodynamics: Unless some outside energy is provided, a system will tend toward disorder. The disorder will increase over time. The stones are the same. They go from a neatly stacked cairn on a large flat rock to a random collection of stones on the forest floor. I’m the ‘outside energy’ that does the reordering. Likewise, my spiritual life tends toward disarray and needs regular reordering. The outside energy is the Holy Spirit. I need to constantly open a path through which this energy may flow.
What are the scattered stones in your life that need reordering? How might you reverse your spiritual entropy?