How strange and wonderful to sit in the office at SVUUS and write this note to you. It was a long road from Buffalo to Salt Lake City (by way of Minneapolis), filled with thought-provoking people and sights. One of those sights was Independence Rock. Independence Rock is a quarter-mile long, 130 foot high hunk of granite. Today it sits alongside Wyoming Route 220 but it became notable when the Oregon Trail ran right by it. It was a landmark for folks making the treacherous trek out west, and some of the weary travelers chose to leave their mark there, scraping their names and the date into the granite where they can still be seen today.
As I stood on that lonely, windswept rock, I thought about their urge to leave some sign of their existence. The Oregon Trail was grueling and death by accident or illness was a real possibility. With no phones and a very uncertain mail system, the travelers had to know that when they left their homes for the west, their loved ones might never hear of them again. I understand the urge to scratch their name into a rock in the middle of Wyoming. Those signs might be their only lasting record.
Independence Rock* made me wonder how we leave our signs today. Where will we leave our mark during our travels? I think a church is a fine place to leave signs. In our community of seekers, we leave our mark with every kind word, every act of generosity, every time we choose as a group to stand up for the most vulnerable among us. And as a vibrant, multi-generational group, those signs get seen and passed on. It’s not a gouge in granite; it’s better than that. It’s an example for all of us. I look forward to leaving our marks together this coming year.
A side note: I’m so grateful for all the kindness, hospitality, and generosity that folks have shown since I landed here. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
*Independence is a terrible misnomer. It was only interdependence that allowed people to survive that journey.
Rev. Bob LaVallee