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This past weekend at Vanaprastha, rain gently soaked the mountain landscape. Water dripped off gable ends, travelled through gutters and drainpipes and coursed down ditches along the driveway. During downpours, gullies also appeared, moving organic debris, soil and rocks down steep-pitched forest, meadow and road. I observed with interest the paths that the water chose, both natural patterns and adaptations to recent construction.

One of our on-going projects is erosion prevention, moving rocks into natural drainage paths and planting seeds to hold the soil and stabilize the land. It has occurred to me that rock moving might be a Sisyphean task – note this particular slope rebuilt this morning after another collapse. I suppose that all efforts could seem like Sisyphus’. Time eventually wears down people, and mountains. 

So what am I to make of my efforts? Is life only repetitive sunrise and sunset, rhythmic waves that heave and dissipate, rigorous labor for nothing? I think not, and this is why.

In my adult life, I have always had a sense of mission. Whether teaching students, raising children or writing, I hear the call to seek knowledge about when to move what rocks, how and where and with whom. I don’t always know why I’m supposed to move a particular rock, but I enjoy the labor, sometimes in solitude, sometimes with others, and planting seeds along the way. Occasionally, we see results, at least the beginnings, as with these rocks and thriving clumps of perennial mint spreading on the slope under the deck outside the basement door, or our children leaving home to pursue their missions.

Will all rocks that I move stay where I place them? Will all seeds that I plant bear fruit? No and no, and sometimes that is due to my ignorance. Sometimes change was meant or not meant to be. And as my Noontimes friend Sarah Myers often says, “That is as it should be.”

Will I fail? Will I become discouraged? Yes and yes, but as long as I live, when the sunrises, you’ll find me out seeking knowledge, moving rocks and planting seeds.

What rocks and seeds do you move and plant?

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