Leave no trace. Whatever you carry in, you carry out. Reduce your footprint. Leave this place better than you found it. All of these ideas are often seen at the office of your nearest state park. It should be fairly easy to grasp the gist of the instruction. Take care of this place. It is here for you to enjoy and not destroy. The basic principle of stewardship is that one cares for something they do not own. It is important to consider leaving something of worth for the following generations of people to enjoy. The concept of stewardship seems to be sorely lacking in many people.
I murmur a lot when hiking a trail and reach a vista only to find pop bottles, candy wrappers, and a host of other refuse littering the trail and vista. Yes, I have been known to gather this stuff and carry it back to my vehicle. It is my way of caring for a place I do not own and in short clean up after less thoughtful folks. Over the weekend, we enjoyed God's creation and I personally marveled at the lack of garbage along the path and more interesting was the lack of spray paint graffiti on the huge rocks we explored. Refreshing would be a word I could use.
As we walked, we approached a mailbox out in the middle of the woods. This landmark has been placed there to encourage hikers, runners, and hunters to leave their mark behind. Inside was a notebook and writing utensils. The caretakers of Standing Stone trail have placed this register in hopes of seeing the diversity of people and places from which they came. As we opened the notebook, a couple of people had just signed the book that morning. We had probably missed them by several hours. It was sort of neat to see who has walked that way and took time to leave behind a word of encouragement or admiration of the trail and region.
As we journey through life, we are stewards. From Genesis 2:15, God has given us responsibility to care for this earth. Yet, signs of neglect and abuse of this place are evident at every turn. In a whole other level of stewardship, we are to be caring for each other. That would be the scripture that Jesus spoke of when he said, "Love one another" (John 13:34). Likewise, one can see our failure to fulfill this basic command of the Lord.
What we say and do to others is important. We can lift up and encourage or we can beat down and disable. The choice on which one we decide to do lies squarely in our lap. As we journey through life, we'll either leave a flowery trail of grace or a growing number of corpses in our wake. Pretty sure I know what God would like us to do.
As we continue through life and are afforded many opportunities to care for everything around us, we bless God when we exercise stewardship. Today, take stock of your environment and see where you might make it better. Consider people in close proximity and how you might express love and compassion to them. Leave a positive mark behind.