Inukshuk: You’re On the Right Path

They crop up in unexpected places – stacks of rough stones called inuksuit. They are Inuit symbols representing ancestors who learned to survive on the land.  In a harsh and unknown landscape sighting a familiar inukshuk (the singular of inuksuit) means,  “You are on the right path.” An inukshuk with arms pointing in a specific direction may indicate a safe navigation channel or mountain passage. Without arms it would likely mark the location of a food cache.

This one was on the northeastern shore of Howe Sound, and I wondered at its significance. Situated on the driftwood-strewn beach below well-kept gardens skirting the condominiums of Furry Creek, it apparently pointed in the direction of Woodfibre, a dismantled pulp mill community at the head of the Sound.  Fascinated, I took several photos on the way past, and more on the way back. Later in the day I realized my attraction was not so much to the figure but to its message. Like the inukshuk itself, what I took away was symbolic: You’re on the right path.

So is there anything to be learned from all this? For me it’s a reminder that with an appreciative heart and inquisitive attitude I can find encouragement for the journey all around me. God is good. 🙂

Have you had any epiphanies lately about the significance of unexpected encounters?


Blessed is the man who finds wisdom,
the man who gains understanding,
for she is more profitable than silver
and yields better returns than gold.
She is more precious than rubies;
nothing you desire can compare with her.
[Proverbs 3:13-15]

12 thoughts on “Inukshuk: You’re On the Right Path

  1. Laura Best says:

    No epiphanies lately, but I think it’s only because I have been too busy myself to look for significance in the world around me. Sad, I know. I do happen to believe that these unexpectedness encounters happen for a reason, and sometimes we do overlook them. Time for me to slow down and pay attention. Thanks, Carol!

  2. Epiphany, maybe. I cannot explain exactly the origin of it, but I received it as a message floating into my heart from Heaven. When I felt distressed fearing I had stumbled on the path, the answer came: Keep your eyes on the prize and don’t count the cost.

    Your photo is beautiful. I don’t blame you for snapping that one! And your interpretation of it’s meaning in your life is so right. And I agree that God is good.

  3. joylene says:

    I had a small Inukshuk pendant made of blue pieces of rock. The day our son left for Afghanistan, I gave it to him as a token of our love. I wanted him to have something of mine close to his heart. To make a long story short, Cory came home safe and sound, as you know. But the inukshuk ended up broken in half. I found that very poignant.

    I always find encouragement in your posts, Carol. I look back at how I found you and where that has taken me, and I am profoundly grateful.

    Have a wonderful weekend. And tons of fun at the conference next week.

  4. Jenn Hubbard says:

    I’ve heard them called cairns and ducks also.

    Wouldn’t we all welcome signposts that tell us we’re on the right path!

  5. Judith Robl says:

    My epiphany came Saturday, when I learned of the deaths of two of my friends from Daughters of the American Revolution. Again I was reminded that time is short and procrastination is a luxury that we cannot afford.

    Lovely photo! Important lesson.

  6. Becky says:

    I am having surgery today, and my sub wanted to come and meet with me beforehand. (When handling high school kids, forewarned is forearmed, and I will be gone a week). Anyway… this was the first time she had met me, and yet she prayed with me.

    Epiphany? I don’t know. This was certainly one of the many instances I have felt of God’s wrapping me in love at the moment, though.

  7. Paul Greci says:

    Cool photo.
    Epiphanies lately. Gosh. None come to mind but I think when I look deeply everything has meaning. I think the trick for me is to try to stay present, and sometimes that’s challenging.

  8. Laura – For me, life is an interesting cycle… sometimes navigated without much attention to the passing view and other times interspersed with these attention-grabbing revelations. On this occasion I had definitely slowed my pace. The whole area was so beautiful that I was constantly marveling. It was one of those ”His eye is on the sparrow and I know He cares for me” times.

    Carol Ann – Sometimes it’s a “still small voice” experience… hearing the answer as an inner certainty, isn’t it?

    Joylene – I guess we can read symbolism into almost anything, but I can’t help wondering at the possible significance of that broken inukshuk. I read your response aloud to my husband and his reaction was, “Better the inukshuk broken than Cory.”

    Conference week has come so quickly! I’m sure looking forward to it, and will blog about it soon.

    Jenn – I had to go hunting for the explanation of “cairns and ducks”… cairns, I know, are usually a conical pile of rocks, but I’d never heard of ducks in this connotation. I found it as a hiking reference, as a stack of three rocks used to mark an off-trail route. I’ve learned something new. Thanks, Jenn. 🙂

    Judith – That’s not the way you like to learn a lesson and I’m sorry for the loss of your two friends. Life certainly is short and with each passing year I’m shocked at how fast time keeps slipping away. It’s important to make the most of today.

    Becky – How wonderful to find another person of faith exactly when you needed the support! You haven’t elaborated on the surgery, but I’m sending a prayer your way that all will go well during it and your recovery.

    Paul – Each day is a gift… it’s good to make the most of them. It’s so easy to take everything for granted.

  9. Jody Hedlund says:

    Hi Carol,
    I haven’t had much time lately for visiting blogs, but I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your encouragement on my blog! Somedays I wonder if I’m on the right path, if I’m doing the right thing. Lately the journey has been busy and hard. And I’d love for God to plunk an inukshuk right down in front of me so that I’d know for sure if I’m doing what I should be. Maybe I won’t find anything so direct as an inushuk, but I find him whispering to me every now and then through the wise words of friends! So thank you!

    • I think the early stages of publication require a lot of adjustments. You already had a busy life so I can imagine you must feel overwhelmed at times. Keep listening for His ‘still small voice’ and hang in there. This friend is very confident that you’re on the right path and the journey will get easier. Just persevere in prayer and maintain your focus.

  10. Anne B. says:

    I think finding an inukshuk means something spiritual, it’s not only about finding the right path to somewhere real but also about finding wisdom of the ancestors. Actually, knowing that you are not the first one at some place is pretty useful (especially when you get lost in a forest) – it encourages you to continue. I’m sure that all of the heritage makes us feel being part of something bigger, something which is more than “now and here”. I’m not talking only about something which is hundreds (or even thousands) years old, I mean everything which shows us some continuity. I visited Vancouver few months ago and found some old places and suddenly I realized that even an old hotel you’re staying at makes you feel like a part of THAT continuity. There are many miracles around us and it’s necessary to find the way how to see them.

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