Sometimes it's not about what you do, but about the impression you leave behind.
We just spent a week in a condominium complex on the east shore of Lake Michigan.
Our rental unit was one of forty-four in a building which shared a private beach with a twin building next door. The sand was soft, fluffy, white, and warm as we trudged awkwardly through it to find our favorite spot for setting up our umbrellas and lawn chairs among the other vacationers of the week.
Our seven days there were gloriously sunny and warm, but not blazingly hot, with enough breezes to propel sailboats and create gentle waves to play in, but not overly windy.
By night, when all of us renters had showered off the sand and settled peacefully in our rooms, one lone figure moved slowly, rhythmically across the cooled-off sand.
He was a large, strong man wearing a simple swimsuit and sandals, walking behind a 25 HP motorized sand-cleaner, steering it in straight lines as it removed the top three inches of sand that would sift through a screen, catch the debris in a basket, and drop the now clean soft sand back along the shore for the feet of tomorrow.
When his catch pan accumulated about a 5-gallon-bucket’s worth of sticks and stones and whatever else the waves washed up, he emptied it into a dumpster.
Every late evening he slowly trudged in parallel lines along the shore of the twin stacked rented-out condos: back and forth and back and forth with detours only to empty his pan.
Once we spotted him in the middle of a day and stopped to thank him for the good job he does keeping the sand clean and neat.
“Oh, no,” he said, “It’s not a job! I’m an owner here and I care about the beach as much as I do my own back yard.”
Later that moonlit evening we watched him from an overhead deck and I spotted the trail he was making. There in the sole of each sandal was an imprint of the cross.
Sometimes the impact of our actions lies in what we leave behind.