Six-year-old me stood on a new boardwalk in Northern Michigan and looked down. Initials and names etched patterns into the wood, and I wondered why someone would ruin fresh boards, boards still smelling of new wood. I wished for a pen or a rock. I wanted my name included among the many.
Ten years later, I pranced over a frozen river with a bottle of orange spray paint. My fiery, blonde haired cousin knew what she wanted to spray, an artist even at thirteen. She saw a concrete canvas and created. I looked up and saw the belly of a bridge. I bubble lettered “Amy Loves Kurt”, and as I sprayed, I knew three things: I didn’t like fluorescent orange. I didn’t love Kurt, and I burned to leave my mark.
During my fourth year of college, I packed two suitcases and headed to the Navajo Reservation. My first trip West overwhelmed me. When we stopped to photograph the multicolored sign that said Colorado, but meant something more, I penned my initials into the base of the sign. I knew if I turned away for a brief moment, my little “AS” would disappear into the words and ramblings of travelers before me, but I still wrote.
As I get older, I long to leave marks on things other than new wood and concrete bridges. Instead, I find myself scribbling ideas on my fast-moving kids.
And often I think of those who left parts of themselves on me.
I’m not sure you can talk about serving others without talking about people who have invested in us. People who have scratched ideas into our hearts. People who have shown us the best marks don’t point to a person, but point to Him.