Two Rocks Don’t Make a Duck

Cairn at Acadia National Park
September 23, 2013

My God is my rock. – Psalm 18:2 (NIV)

When my husband and I visited the Acadia National Park Visitors Center, informational placards lined the uphill walkway from the parking lot to the building. Of course, I had to read them all. Not only because I needed to catch my breath from climbing the hundred-plus steps, either. Maybe it’s the teacher in me. Or my insatiable curiosity. Or both.

Since Dean’s impatience at my frequent stops was starting to show (and it was only the beginning of the day), I took pictures of the placards so I could read them later in the evening when he was asleep in his recliner.

But the cairns intrigued me, and I took my sweet time at each of them.

A cairn is a stone structure built to point the way on a trail. Although cairns come in various shapes and sizes, the ones at Acadia were no more than 18 inches high and were built with four or six large stones: two or four large, square ones on the bottom with one large, rectangular stone spanning them, and a smaller, triangular-shaped one on top, with the tip pointing the direction of the trail.

“Cairns are carefully built and placed to point the way,” one placard read. “When trail blazes are hidden by fog or snow, cairns are essential,” said another.

Another placard warned of tampering with the cairns: “Do not build new cairns or add to existing cairns – you may confuse or endanger hikers.”

Back at the camper, I googled “cairns” to find out more about them. Trail marks in North America, I learned, are often called “ducks” or “duckies” because the point of the top rock resembles a duck’s beak. “The expression ‘two rocks don’t make a duck’ reminds hikers that just one rock resting on another could be the result of accident or nature rather than intentional trail marking.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cairn)

Like a path in the woods, the trail of life can be confusing at times, too. The fog of indecision, the snow of fear about the results of our choices may hide the direction we are to go. Sometimes all the paths look good – or bad.

Right now I’m wrestling with a decision of whether or not to proceed with the project of publishing a third book of meditations – compilations of this column. Since I self-publish, the cost upfront comes out of my pocket. I’ve started two or three times to put the book together since my last compilation came out in 2002. But each time I backed out because of finances.

“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you,” the Bible tells us in James 1:5 (NLT).

And again: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take” (Proverbs 3:5, 6 NLT).

God’s cairns are there for the asking. But sometimes we don’t recognize them because, like me, we don’t know what they are.

But when we do, we see that He’s placed them at every point we need direction. We just need eyes to see the duck.

Give me the spiritual sight to see and recognize the cairns You’ve placed along my life’s path, O Lord. Amen.

Read and reflect on Exodus 13:21–22

From God, Me & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God, © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

Give Me a Map, Not an App!

 

road-atlas

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. . . . The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple. Psalm 119: 105, 130 (NIV)

We weren’t lost. We just couldn’t find our destination.

It wasn’t like we hadn’t been there before. Of course, “before” was close to 25 years ago. And “there” was the Kinzua Bridge, which was once the tallest railroad bridge in the world—until July 2003, when an F1 tornado came roaring through the valley. What was left of the bridge has been transformed into a skywalk, which I wanted to see.

So on our Labor Day weekend camping trip to the Allegheny National Forest, my husband and I planned two day trips—one to the Kinzua Dam and the other to the Kinzua Bridge Skywalk.

We had no problems on Saturday, but Sunday was another story.

We set out, armed with a road atlas, a map of the area, the Google map app on my cellphone, and Dean’s handheld GPS.

And we still got lost.

Well, not lost, but we kept getting turned around. Over and over and over again.

It wasn’t like we hadn’t navigated miles and miles and miles of unknown territory over the many road trips we’ve taken. But this time, it seemed we were driving in a big circle around the area of bridge but somehow couldn’t find the road to the bridge.

We even followed the road signs—you know the brown ones with the name of the state park, an arrow to indicate which way to go, and the number of miles?

Crazy, but Dean thought it was the signs that got us turned around. Because each time we took the turn the sign indicated to Kinzua Bridge State Park, we drove farther away from it, according to the Google Map app.

But then maybe the Google Map app, which depends on a strong satellite signal, wasn’t as accurate as it should have been. The satellite radio station we listen to kept cutting in and out, indicating a temporary loss of signal, which is often the case when traveling through the mountains. Same with the cellphone signal.

We’ve rarely gotten so confused—so turned around—that I, navigator and map reader extraordinaire, became so flummoxed I tossed my hands up in frustration.

“I give up!” I snapped, shutting off the Google Map app.

Which is probably what I should have done in the first place—or not even turned it on. Now that I look back—isn’t hindsight always better than foresight?—I never should have tried to use it at all, with the spotty signal and all. I should have chosen one thing to guide us—my trusty road atlas. It has never let me down.

We never did get to Kinzua Bridge. We’d planned on visiting a couple we know who were camping near Coudersport after we’d gone to the bridge. When I finally figured out where we were, I told Dean, “We might as well forget the bridge and go visit Mark and Anna. We’re already halfway there.”

The same is true in on the journey of life, isn’t it? We often get turned around and lose our way when we use too many guidebooks or apps. One says one thing, another says another. Which one is correct? Which one is accurate?

Give me a map, not an app. And only one—the map of God’s Word—will lead me through the confusion, chaos, and jumble of roads life can become. It’s clear, unchanging, unfailing, steadfast, and authored by the One who created me and the world I’m traveling through.

And, like my trusty atlas, it never has let me down.

What are you using?

Thank you, Father, for giving me Your Word and Your Holy Spirit to guide me through life. Amen.

Extra tea: Read and meditate on Psalm 119 (Since this is a long portion of Scripture, you may want to break up the reading into daily sections of 25 verses.)