The Lake District is dotted about with these piles of stones (known as cairns), especially in the upper reaches of its mountains. Walking with friends there recently, I was surprised that most of my fellow-hikers walked straight past them. But then you would wouldn’t you? It’s hard to appreciate their value and purpose on a hot cloudless afternoon.
They come into their own when the mist comes down and you can’t see much of the way ahead; I’ve been up there in such conditions and the cairns have guided me to safety. Consequently (and coached to do so by my mum from an early age) I now pause to add a stone to each cairn that I pass, not knowing when they might next be appreciated by walkers struggling to find the way in the mist or the dark.
It’s inconvenient – I have to break my stride-pattern, stoop to pick up a pebble, stone or rock and then place it so that it doesn’t fall off the cairn and the delay can leave me at the back of the bunch – irksome when you’re competitive like me. However, over the years it’s become a habit and, as I say, I’ve reason to be grateful for them.
There are no cairns in Oxford (sadly!) but the bible teaches that God is building with ‘living stones’ (1 Peter 2:5). As Christians invest their lives for God they, together, become like Way Markers, showing our city the way to its loving God through every season of life. Will you change your pace and invest your life?