They’re just some stones piled together.
Hikers know them as cairns, piles of rocks to mark a trail and guide the traveler, usually above the tree line. Having spent time living in Asia, they can have deeper meaning, and the little ‘cairn garden’ that periodically springs up near one of the walking trails in Bedford, Massachusetts certainly has special meaning to me. Especially in difficult times like we’re all experiencing now, I see so much more than a few piles of stones.
Most people bicycle, run, or walk by in conversation without noticing the little garden tucked back just off the trail. And to be fair, these stones probably lay haphazardly on the earth as often as they are standing, easily struck down as a source of amusement for some. But isn’t that appropriate, given the cycles of destruction and rebirth we see all around us every day?
I see renewal, hope, and faith in the future, and compassion in the simple act of strangers taking a moment from their busy days to add a few stones to the garden. And to me, this humble, unassuming garden that I can see, feel, and touch is more powerful than many famous and photographed monuments around the world.
It also reinforces my belief that the acts of ordinary people, not the rich, famous, or powerful are of most importance in changing the world. Change must begin in the hearts and minds of every individual, each of whom is as important as any billionaire or superstar. To paraphrase similar quotes, we may each be but a drop in the vast ocean, but together we are a tidal wave.
I hope you have, or can find, a similar source of inspiration, compassion, and hope near you. It may be a place of worship, nature, or the energy of good people who reach out to help in times of need. Whatever or whomever it may be, hold on tight. And if you can, be that for others.
Author’s Note: As far as we know, this little cairn garden is not the work of one person, but many who pass by and add to it, especially after stones have fallen or been knocked over.