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As we all flow downstream, what is our mission in life?

On Second Thought
Lead Summary
Lori Sorenson, editor

We spent last week in the beautiful Black Hills exploring backwoods logging trails and climbing atop lookout points of the national forest service.
We enjoyed breathtaking scenery … as we do every time we travel to the Hills.
Maybe it’s because we live on the relatively flat prairie among cornfields and soybeans, but the Black Hills views of the deep canyons and majestic overlooks never get old.
I once wrote a column about Black Hills wildflowers that grow in the most impossible places — sprouting out of rock crevasses and in the middle of hardpacked roadways.
This time I was inspired by mountain streams.
For many of our ATV trips, dust is part of the deal. Our wheels kick up dust, no matter how slowly we travel, and we often spend our evenings rinsing grime out of our hair.
This year rain has been plenty in the Hills, and dust was minimal.
And I found myself watching the streams.
I was mesmerized by them.
Every roadway and primitive trail seemed to have a stream bubbling alongside it. Some were wide and fast; others were narrow and meandering.
All were crystal clear … and icy cold.
I know this because I couldn’t help putting my toes in water when given the chance.
Watching the flowing water, I wondered where it came from and where it was going.
I imagined individual drops of water on important journeys. Some appeared very driven — moving swiftly over rocks and around fallen logs.
Did they start as a melting snowflake or a falling raindrop? What was their mission?
Would they satisfy a thirsty cow or deer? Or would they support a thriving trout population?
During our drive back to Rock County Friday, we heard the radio forecast of severe storms and flash flooding in Spearfish Canyon where we had just been.
Would one of these sparkling, serene streams overflow its banks and threaten wildlife, property and humans?
Enough individual drops of water all in one place in too short a time could cause devastation.
It occurred to me that we humans are like the water in a mountain stream.
Some of us move swiftly through life. Others meander along, content to accept what life gives us.
We’re all flowing downstream and will ultimately perish, but what is our purpose along the way?
Will we nourish a thirsty soul? Will we provide a supportive environment for those around us?
Or will we find ourselves in a raging river of individuals bent on ill will or destruction?
Unlike the water droplets, we humans have a choice.
What is our mission?

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