The yellow rope marked the boundary of disturbance in the pristine Sonoran desert setting. The bureaucracy required the bright yellow limits of disturbance line and fence be in place to ensure at least half of the property being built on would keep the virgin desert intact.
The stake I was relocating in order to preserve the dessert was right at the edge of an old mining road that ran smack through the middle of the cactus and boulder laden property. I ponder the folks that once travailed the desert wilderness, no doubt on horseback and wagon to start.
Even by the time a gas powered vehicle was digging ruts with its skinny tires in the decomposed desert granite trail, air conditioning in the Arizona desert was a long way off. Those had to be exceptionally tough individuals or just regular folks with nothing to lose.
It’s peculiar what people will do or what they’re capable of under the right circumstances. The earthmover that would soon tear into the tough Arizona desert, making it look like it wasn’t so tough after all, was hours away from beginning its assault on the Sonoran paradise when I realized a stake and rope were in the wrong location.
We had extra stakes, just lacked a basic hammer to drive it into the stubborn Arizona earth. I reached down to the surface, where people had forged for over a hundred and fifty years, tugged on small rocks about twice the size of my hand trying to find one that was only surface deep… Not too many of those types in that neck of the woods… make that rocks…
I finally found an unwilling party and tossed it up and down lightly in the palm of my hand to test the weight and cool the rock wearing the element of an Arizona summer. That baby was hot! Necessity pushed me forward, maybe a little like the people who’d gone before me on that old mining road that would soon be a memory.
Despite the intense heat of the rock turned hammer, I reared it above my head and shoulder bringing it crashing down like thunder toward the earth from where it came. I wiggled my fingers slightly in my grip trying to let some arid air pass around it in my hand to cool the baby boulder along with my searing hand.
After several strikes and penetration into the earth my hand rattled with shock as the steel stake found a bigger boulder than the one in my hand. I continued to move the searing rock around in my hand trying new sites in hopes of finding a place that wouldn’t have a car sized boulder hiding below the surface.
The stinging pain bid me to quit my endeavor, but something inside me, maybe a slight glimpse of the stuff that made up the people that crossed this path hundreds of years before me, pushed me on despite my burning flesh. Those pioneers exerted their will in and on this world, the old road is proof of their resolve in a time that was infinitely harder than the one that brought me to drive a steel rod with a hot rock for a hammer.
We as a society and many Christians gave gotten soft. We seek to avoid discomfort more than we seek to do that in which we’re called and the things we know are right.
I was surprised to find a blister burned into my thumb. Maybe we still have enough of our heritage left in us to make a difference. I used my teeth, like the ones of old would have done, to tear a hole in my blister and drain it. I’d forgotten how much that burns…
I think there’s a lesson here somewhere.