Last year my wife and I had the privilege of visiting Italy. One of our favorite stops was Pompeii. We spent hours exploring the ruins of the ancient city, imagining what life was like thousands of years ago. I saw many things I didn’t realize were so ancient:
high-density city housing,
The crosswalks were large stones raised high above the streets, which often had deep tracks worn in them from wagon wheels. Wagon drivers on these streets would want a wagon to be a certain height and have a certain width between the wheels, otherwise they wouldn’t get very far. The tracks might seem limiting, but they probably helped wagons get from one part of the city to another with relative ease.
The cobblestones of our society and culture have similar tracks worn in them. They consist of the stories we tell, the stories that motivate us to live and act in particular ways.
I grew up with a particular set of stories. My hometown, Simi Valley, is in the shadow of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. The stories of Reagan republicanism shaped my politics and ethics. I am the grandson of a California developer and an Idaho farmer – a combination of tracks that leads to some paradoxes in how my view of the world. I enjoy a good backpacking trip but also view cities as some of the greatest accomplishments of people.
Finally, I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These tracks are perhaps the deepest of all. They are the set of stories I am the most loyal to. They tell me who I am, why I am here, and where I am going. They guide my actions on the deepest level, even when the political and social world I inhabited has fallen to pieces. Sometimes these tracks still jostle my wagon, but the guidance they provide and the promised destination are well worth it.
What stories provide the tracks that guide your life through the cobblestone streets of life? Where are those tracks leading you?