Recently my wife and I biked around Michigan’s Mackinac Island. It’s a beautiful Up North 8.2 mile trip.
Aside from the incredible natural wonders of the shoreline what struck us was the number of rock towers people had built as a testament to their passing. Walking or biking, people stop virtually every day to pile one rock upon the other, sometimes a ways out into the water, then often pose for a picture beside their creation.
Why do they do this? Several reasons: they build rock towers for fun or, along with the pics, as a way to create a souvenir of their visits. Some build rock towers to outdo the next builder—these are the towers painstakingly stacked with larger rocks that’ll weather a few waves before they succumb to the ravages of time. Some are built to say, “I was here. I matter. I have significance.”
Perhaps this sounds too philosophical for a seemingly mundane bit of fun. But I don’t think so. Human beings are created with what some call “a spark of the divine” and God called imago dei. Genesis 1:27 tells us we’re made in the image of God. We have value, and we are eternal beings, even if we don’t know it, even if others, including governments or power-groups don’t recognize it, even if we lack self-esteem and don’t acknowledge it ourselves. Even if the certainty of a death that comes to us all seems to say otherwise.
People give a shout-out to significance in all kinds of ways. While there is nothing per se wrong with any of these things, it’s also true to say that some people create significance for themselves by giving their names to companies, creating nonprofit organizations, giving large donations in return for naming opportunities, or building one kind or another of monument, including large ornate cemetery memorials.
Day to day you can see people assuring in some way you know what makes them special. Have you ever seen a man wear a muscle shirt who didn’t have muscles he wanted to display? Or a woman who, via her choice of fashion, emphasizes some aspect of her appearance, something she wants people to notice because this sets her apart? A youth who drives past, windows down, music blaring—what’s the music saying? I am here; I am significant. Or people who build rock towers to mark their passing?
I readily admit one can’t get too carried away with this sort of “analysis,” because people’s motives are not always what they seem or what we think they may be. But I still contend where there’s smoke there’s fire, and in this scenario, we’re all smoking because there’s a fire inside us all. It’s our inner sense of and desire for significance.
What kind of rock tower are you building?
© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011
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