Gathering Treasure

       There is a Spanish saying often used by pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago, Caminares atesorar, to say, “To walk is to gather treasure.” It isn’t only true for walking, though. We gather treasure when we pay attention.

       Last week, Spring Break for Texas, we spent some quality time with our family, specifically our two granddaughters, skiing at Brighton, Utah.

       We had a great time. There was plenty of snow on any trail we cared about, and no lift lines. We squeezed as much skiing into three days as we could want, and we even got fresh snow on our last day. This was our first time to ski in Utah, but I doubt it will be our last.

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       Our original plan was to ski at Santa Fe, which we’ve done the previous two Spring Breaks, mostly because they have an excellent kid’s ski program. But since New Mexico didn’t get enough snow this year, we cobbled together enough Southwest Airlines points to get us all to Salt Lake City, all seven of us: Tonya and Kevin and friend Wade, Cyndi and me, and Madden and Landry.

       We stayed in the Brighton Lodge, a ski-in-ski-out place located very near the lifts. Their webpage says it “offers comfortable rustic hotel-style accommodation;” It reminded me of a European youth hostel, with small rooms and a shared commons area. Our stay felt like a college trip with every flat surface covered by a sleeping person. We had to step over suitcases and around gear and each other to maneuver to the bathroom or front door. The commons area was shared by all the guests, so the first morning both granddaughters, still in their pajamas, ate their cereal while surrounded by a half-dozen men from Argentina. “Your girls are beautiful,” they said.

       Since we had seven people (including two teen-aged boys) and three beds, deciding where we would sleep was our most complicated puzzle. After discussing several options, including making the boys sleep outside, the best solution had me sharing a queen-sized bed with the two girls, 8 and 4-1/2 years old, which means I slept on the outside 8” and the girls tossed around the other 52“. We were usually so tired after skiing all day we fell asleep right away so the beds didn’t matter very much anyway.

       One night I was reading in bed while trying to quieten the girls when the youngest, Landry, asked, “Pops, are you stuck on a word?” In her preschool no one reads silently, so her only possible explanation for me holding a book without making a sound would be if I were stuck trying to pronounce a word. She offered, “All you have to do is sound out the letters one at a time.”

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       Thomas Merton wrote, “Every moment and every event of every man’s life on earth plants something in his soul.” Quality time happens when we are paying attention to each other, and to the details of daily life.

       For Cyndi and me, this phase of our skiing life began three years ago, when the idea of teaching the next generation popped up. That first time, we dug our gear out of the trunks we’d stored in the attic; we were the height of 1990s fashion for three days.

       Skiing used to be a big part of our life. Cyndi and I skied together before we were married, and we started skiing with our kids when they were very young. But even more than skiing itself, we love family traditions and family stories, and we’ll go to great lengths to repeat and reinforce those.

       During this past year I picked up the term, trans-generational, to describe how we should apply our priorities in life to things that will last generations. I’ve even started re-framing some of my life goals to meet that criterion. Cyndi and I want to invest in our family, to influence them toward a deeper and richer life with God. That includes granddaughters and teen-aged nephews. And last week, it included skiing.


“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32