On Climbing Cardigan: October

They say if it’s not posted on social media, it didn’t happen, but it was pretty cold-ish the first day of October when The Princess, my brother, and I climbed Cardigan, and all of our collective phones froze on the way up. Froze-froze, as in got-so-Mars-cold they stopped working.

So pictures are few from the climb, much to my brother’s chagrin, as he wanted a summit photo to share with his fam. Perhaps it’s just as well – The Princess says I look at my phone(s) too much anyway, so we were all forced to enjoy each other’s company and be in the moment for most of the hike.


The morning broke glorious.


We did not let the mist hugging the campus deter, and were in the Jeep and at the trailhead by 8.

The day before, we had all attended the dedication of a granite bench at the school of my son-that’s-gone. His friends that commissioned it were there, along with many of his former teachers, coaches, and some families that knew him well.

It’s hard to imagine a less likely material than granite to represent the man that my son had started to become. Granite is rigid, unyielding, hard and cold.

My child was none of these things.


And yet – it was perfect.

I recently listened to a broadcast about Michelangelo’s David. I never knew that two other sculptors had rejected the enormous block of white marble from which the statue was hewn, citing its “imperfections,” before it was offered to Michelangelo. In fact, the marble had languished in a courtyard nearly as long as the young artist had been alive.



It is said that Michelangelo was so focused on his creative task that he slept in his boots and carved in the rain.


The life that he coaxed out of that uncompromising stone is a marvel.

Imperfections indeed!


I’d like to think that in some small way, my son’s bench, situated in a well-traveled corner of campus, a spot he used to love, will be a coaxer of lifeas well. Friends will gather, sit, linger, laugh.

Some may remember.

Life is short.

Though imperfections lie deep within our core, if we let the Master’s hand pluck and polish, we, too, can reflect His creative grace.

Climbing Cardigan that morning, the three of us were quiet, thinking of the day before.

While I am wont to blame the bench dedication for my brother’s get-up, the truth is he had not planned on staying with me overnight and was forced to improvise his hiking attire from what was in my apartment. The Princess found him some pants and off we went.


I’m grateful we didn’t have any Lederhosen lying around.


When I looked closer, trying not to laugh, I saw that the shorts bore the number of my son. His life sticks to everything, everywhere, until it is difficult to grieve him too hard, for where I am, there he always is.


His imperfections may have killed him.

But in many ways, they may have saved me, saved his diminished family. We are starting to come out the other side of this weight of grief, a nano at a time, and the Master is there, ever there, holding us up and spurring us on.

He is dependable, His love so unyielding, that He will not allow the imperfections in us to ultimately destroy.

But we have to yield.

Every day we carve with Him this bulk of life, never knowing when we will reach the edge of the stone. Perhaps someday, a David may appear, surprising and rugged, a beautiful wonder.


If pieces of flawed granite and marble can be transfigured into objects of beauty by chisel and blade in the hands of a mortal, imagine what life the Master can draw out of us.

He is the Michelangelo of the universe.


“For we are God’s masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).





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