Priorities II – The Ore

“Each time we face our fear, we gain strength, courage, and confidence in the doing.”

Theodore Roosevelt

Welcome to the second installation with the Righteous Way priorities, I’m walking through an alignment of priorities that the productively faithful should consider when gauging your efforts. Last week we covered the first of five priorities, The Transcendent – directing your highest priority above so everything below is well-ordered and designed with a purpose.

Our second stop when ordering our priorities comes to ourselves. I’ve settled this into the second tier despite the urge to place it lower in pursuit of selflessness. However, on one hand, it’s important to realize that we are instruments and that to be of service as an instrument, we must be formed. We can’t give what we don’t have. On the other, we are born into life and spend our formative years in singlehood. For the young and unsettled, singlehood can be made intentional in our preparation for our Vocational callings of serving our family, flock, or profession.

I love the imagery in Scripture of refining, “The refining pot is for silver the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests hearts,” (Proverbs 17:3), “Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction,” (Isaiah 48:10), or the familiar “Iron sharpens iron,” (Proverbs 27:17). It’s part of the love letter from our Creator who knows us too well, our Blacksmith. We will be formed one way or another, so who is doing the formation in your life?

Raw Ore – We don’t come onto life, thankfully for our mothers, fully grown. We spend our early years in formation by our families, religions, schools, communities, and various inputs. Everyone is handed an experience to start with – some better than others. No matter the starting point, that isn’t the finished race. We eventually claim ownership over our life whether we’re ready or not. When we do, we pick up the reigns and start steering. What we start to determine for ourselves is how we’re going to spend our time, effort, and love moving from ownership to death. Maybe you are recognizing a need for redirection or you can state the moments when you set your feet and began your direction.

Heat & Hammer – You’re going to be formed one way or another in life – when we hear the call on our heart from Above, life looks much different. Life isn’t just about how we can pursue the next enjoyable moment or comfort zone, a way to wish away the hard times. But suffering in life can be formative in making us a more powerful instrument of service even in the face of evil. It’s a symptom of a fallen world. When we think “God, why did this happen to me? Don’t you love me?”, the answer is, without a doubt, He does. God walks with us even in the hardest of moments, He will not abandon us. But despite whatever we get hit with, we can see the goodness that can shine on the other side. When you take a 30,000-foot view of your life, you can see how hard moments may have struck you into something different than you were before, but how can you use that for good? How have you grown through even painful hits? Where did the heat of the moment reveal cracks that need to be healed in an even greater way? Just like iron, heat and hammer can bring out the impurity to make the ore strong. We are also generally shaped into what our purpose will be in this process, what capabilities and talents are grown in this?

Whetstone – After a blacksmith has hammered the instrument into what it’s going to be used for, it’s time to hone it, a more careful sharpening. When making a sword, a blacksmith will use a whetstone to create a sharp edge. It will smooth out the roughness and create a shine. In the same way, we get greater clarity for the purpose we have been designed for – maybe this is greater professional or educational training, a seasoning of confidence in dating, or a maturing of an idea. What do you see in your life as an advancing trait, skill, opportunity, or call?

The Sword – Insert any analogy you like – Maybe you’re not a sword, maybe you’re a hammer to form others. Maybe you see yourself as sickle for harvesting. Use your imagination. I like the image of a sword. I trained and competed for twelve years in fencing, I’m familiar with its usage, I know how it’s handled offensively and defensively in conjunction with the strategy of the game. I think in the same way I’m designed for proverbial battle. I see how my formation continues, but so does my usage. The analogy can certainly be used in many different directions, in some ways, we’re never done learning or being formed but at some point, you go from formation to use. Not everyone is a sword or a hammer or a whatever – everyone is formed for their own reason. When we allow ourselves to be formed and used as an instrument of our Creator, then it becomes very clear that we’ve been made to do remarkable things big and small.  

Pray for direction and take advantage of opportunities that come your way. Don’t fret the heat and hits in your life, embrace them and grow through them. Take account of your skills and ask, “What do you want me to do with these?” Lastly, don’t be afraid of failure and take action, there’s growth there too. Because we are formed by the Creator – our love, virtues, skills, and vision become selfless and geared for the service of our next priorities…

Bringing fuel to the productively faithful – subscribe here to get The Climb articles right in your email box, every Righteous Wednesday. You can also follow along the Righteous journey on Instagram @righteousco.


High above the hot Saharan grassland in an earlier time, a buzzard takes notice of a party of Homo sapiens led by their Homo naledi trackers — half stride in a wet gulch. Whenever humans were on the move, there will be blood. The buzzard found it was best to follow along and spent the extra energy to disengage from the easy thermal updraft.

Down below, a sapien named Iry was leading the party but after hours of steady pursuit, it was time for a break in the hot midday sun. Settling beside a shaded and pooled part of the stream bed, Iry knew they should be making the most of the height of the sun while the predators were least active but the heat was oppressive. Iry and the other sapiens could manage on but the smaller naledi, while impressive for their kind, were not suited for this type of marathon. They were talented trackers but couldn’t keep up with man’s build.

The sapien hunters rested their eyes after drinking their fill from the muddy pool and munching dried meat they brought along. The three naledi’s chirped and shuffled about some toadstools under a dead tree nearby. The naledi wasn’t as vocally apt as the sapiens and resorted to signing with each other and their other human counterparts. They signed and chirped among themselves as they picked the fungi, extra excitement was had at discovering a termite mound. Iry set watch as he set his spear at his side. Letting the others doze off in the shade, Iry rested his eyes but honed his hearing. Sight here could often deceive but acute hearing in a visual world gave opportunity. The area was alive with activity as birds of many kinds darted around, the air was bustling with squawks and calls. The deer they spooked upon entry into this space didn’t clear off too far as he could hear them just out of sight, back to grazing in the green tall grasses. The deer, much sharper of hearing, would serve as a good advanced warning should they take an interest in anything bigger than a honey badger.

In the early days, mankind wasn’t the only humans around. Our competitive advantage was our stamina and intelligence — complimentary to some, rivals to others. Hundreds of thousands of years before man’s best friend was canine, it was Homo. Being the newest on the scene, we learned that we could work with others like the Homo naledi — friendly, complementary, and naturally capable additions to a tribe. Others, like the ancient and primitive Homo erectus, were strong and fiercely independent. They had different sets of eyes, palettes, and societies. These apex man-apes have been on the scene for a long time and have been used to running the landscape. They didn’t respond to relationships, they hunted all, even fellow humans.

The cooperative party was originally double, on a rescue mission. But it quickly turned to a retribution mission upon coming across the quartered and butchered remains of their progeny at the hands and in the camp of the bloody erectus. After a clash that left half of the co-op’s original party dead or wounded, the erectus ape-men fled the scene into the wild where the hunt continued.

Thanks to the loyal naledi, erectus hadn’t been lost. At least three were being trailed from the camp. The co-op party didn’t know where they were headed. They had hoped to catch up to them before they met a larger troop. As Iry’s internal clock ticked he sat up to round the party to keep moving. Before he roused the crew, he took notice as the naledi sat in a circle among themselves eating quietly, even as fully mature they reminded him of his now late children, small and innocent looking. Iry drew his eyes down to his arm, to where his dark skin was interrupted by jagged pink scarring from the time he was there to protect his children in need. That one was feline. Now, he had to live with the time he wasn’t there. This time it was erectus.

Iry whistled and everyone was up and on trail again, naledi leading away by carefully watching and smelling the ground. The human co-op was quiet and efficient — master hunters and well-experienced together. Moving quickly and stealthily down the bank of the sunken stream bed —naledi tracking by scent and footprints, sapien watchful for other predators. Lesser seasoned parties would have lost the trace long ago in the soft mud of the active water source, animals have been crossing and mashing evidence throughout the day. Erectus was using choice spots to throw off the trail by showing false exit spots or intentionally using the water to conceal prints. However, these naledi were very good and motivated. The sapiens weren’t the only ones to suffer loss. Seventeen of them were carried off in the night, no survivors. These naledi mourned too in their own childlike way.

The day wore on, shadows grew longer and the sky hued orange and the party kept up their pace. As the sun began it’s final descent the naledi now committed to an off point, easily climbing out of the waterway to a slight trail of broken grass, single file. The mid-Saharan grasslands were characteristically flat, spotted with rocky formations. The trail led to a rare grouping of trees and a stark rock formation some distance behind it.

Upon climbing out of the sunken stream bed Iry exhaled sharply, seeing their mistake. While he couldn’t see them, he could feel eyes staring stealthily… ominously. They stood clear above the grass, even as they crouched following Iry’s lead, he knew they would have been seen from the tree cluster. This was a trap of design.

This prey was no ordinary prey. They were wittier than the rest of the kingdom, sly even. It wasn’t good enough to find them, you had to keep watch that they weren’t playing you. As Iry recalled the lessons of his father, his mind raced to undermine and reverse the ambush. The others stayed crouched, silent, waiting for their leader to move. If they stayed too long the assailants would know they’d been detected. As witty as erectus was, man too was clever. 

Iry stood up and yawned and stretched. The others looked at him as he stood at ease, looked at each other, and followed suit. The naledi barely stood above the grass. They looked puzzled but did as the sapiens did. Iry casually wrapped his arms around one of the companions with a celebratory smile but started laying out the plan through his grin. The sapiens started laughing, naledi puzzled – looking to Iry but missing the subtlety. Iry gave them directions with hand signals and they hopped slightly in the grass with new excitement before they started foraging nearby.

The party would take a quick break here but the sun is heading to the last stretch of its stay. Shadows getting long and dark. Other predators will be hunting soon and being in the open is the last place any hominid would want to be. While feigning carelessness they need to wrap this up soon otherwise without setting camp they will be at the mercy of the wild.

The naledi led as before towards the grouping of trees, close together and low to the ground. Sapiens upright but watchful, shuffling their feet in the grass. The perimeter of trees was dense with brush and thistles but there was a small game trail opening they followed in. Watchful of the brush on the sides, they passed without incident into the interior where the dense brush eased into a rather cleared undergrowth. The trunks of the trees and light grass gave a rather clear optic of the area. It was a shelter for game — much of the soil overturned from many feet and the bark scuffed up from horns and tusks. While the center was clear, the edges were impermeable and dark, only some light escaped from the canopy above but the day was getting long.

The confident feint the party was leading had now transitioned to cautious progress inward. A few paces in, one of the naledi abruptly stopped, close fist in the air and face intently at the ground. The other two signed quickly and looked around and back. The first, without looking back at Iry, signed that there was only one set of their prey’s footprints here. It was easy to fake foot impact in grass but the soil made clear intentions.

Iry was right, they’ve been played. The lone set of footprints went straight, through the clearing, into where the game trail funneled into a tunnel of foliage. The kill zone. The trap was set.

It was already darkening. If they pulled away now, they wouldn’t find shelter for the night far enough to make distance from their opponents. It would be a long night if it was just the animals of lesser intellect but Iry knew erectus would be looking for the kill at this point. There was no turning back. An ambush triggered before maturation was a benefit to the defender, which they now were. 

Iry knew well that success would require the team to save face. He gripped his spear forward and tightly, exhaled softly, and pressed ahead with bravado. The four sapiens formed a single file line while motioning the three naledi in step — two in front, two in back with naledi center.

It was quiet. The noise of the grassland birds now silent. A lone cricket on the left. Ten paces from the foliage tunnel now, no sign of erectus. The tunnel area darkened, dense on each side. Iry continues without hesitation. The soft padding of their feet is now the only noise. He’s the first to enter, while the tunnel is dark, he could make out the trampled dirt ahead. Ten paces in, the whole party is surrounded by dense thorns and foliage. While at first glance it seemed smaller, there was enough room to maneuver. The trail was made from larger game.

Fourteen paces, Iry closes his eyes and sharpens his hearing. The breathing of his compatriots was clear despite the attempts to muffle it. His heartbeat heavy. A number of mosquitoes buzzing nearby. He moved ahead blindly a bit more. Then, a shift.

On the right. So slight. Too easy to pass off. But it was unmistakable. An intentional yet subtle shift of a stance. No one else caught it. Time slowed.

Iry thought of his slain children, remembering their laughs and cries. He remembered his grandfather and father teaching him the very skill he now needed to unfurl. Iry the sapien repositioned his hands tighter and in an explosive pivot, hurled his spear left-handed to the right, into the dense plants.

The trap was sprung early. The proceeding moments brought the clash of hominids long pursued. Two naked erectus came out from more than twenty paces ahead on the trail in a fury, howling with vocals of ancient lineage that were part man, part ape. They hurled axes that critically injured one of the sapiens and caught a naledi in the head, behind the other sapien who dodged. The naledi was killed instantly. The sapiens had the edge with weapons and numbers but erectus was strong and fierce. One of the naledi was stout of heart and jumped into the fray but had four fingers taken in one bite which was then proceeded by a stiff forearm to the temple rendering an instant knockout. The other naledi held and mourned the now-dead individual who still held the axe head in his face.

An unforeseen erectus came in from behind but too late. This would be the fourth after Iry pulled his spear from the throat of the initial erectus slain to start the battle. The other two erectus had just fallen, the fourth comer engaged lightly but thought better of it and escaped further down the trail. Iry and another gave chase as the last erectus sprinted into the now dusk grassland. The last of them had made good ground before the sapiens entered the clearing but as primitive justice would have it, a big cat had taken notice of his hasty departure from the protection of the wood and ran him down. A high-pitched ape scream was quickly throated and that was that.

Iry and the other hadn’t come out far from the trail when they saw the pursuit. They looked at each other, stopped, and quietly and carefully crept back to the safety of the trees. Iry looked back over his shoulder toward the open — the last erectus was heading as the crow flies to the rock formation in the not-so-far distance. He could make out the evidence of an encampment, a slight glow off the rock at the base of the shadowed crag. As the duty of his forefathers, Iry would have to lead the advance to extinguish the flames of the next erectus camp. Iry exhaled as one does when he sets his mission. A motion from above caught his eye, a dark buzzard circling above.

For now, Iry would have to tend to his party to make it through the night. Wounds to be cauterized, their dead buried, and erectus dragged out in the open to keep the carnivores busy.

The sapiens may have been the newest hominid on the scene and would toil to subdue the wilds while competing with other beings for dominance ecologically, reproductively, and culturally. It’s clear to understand what it means to be called human today but that would have looked very different in the time when man ran with other man.

A shout out to the PBS Eons show for a great episode on the mysteries of the naledi, sparking the idea to tie them into this. Excellent series.


There and Back Again

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”

St. Augustine

What a journey – the second Iron Ore Men’s Retreat is in the books. Battles are fought in life and there are things that will seek your abdication of great things for comfort. This is the story of Iron Ore. We’re formed through tough stuff, for tough stuff.

This year has been a struggle in many ways and when it came to IO: Algonquin, I limped my way into it. I just needed more time, more energy. After the depleting success of the YouCon conference in ministry, I was staring at IO, spent.

But here’s the thing. When we do what is given to us faithfully, God provides the rest. Every yes, no, maybe, and yes-then-nos, or no-then-yeses all along the way provide exactly what the Lord has intended.

The Wild Six gathered in the Adirondacks with a familiarity of brothers, not strangers. We set up camp in the rain and enjoyed dinner and our opening session at the beautiful Whiteface Lodge. We set the pace of the experience by reflecting next to a large granite fireplace – drawing upon the story of Moses staring upon the mountain where the Lord descended in His theophany.

The next day, up and at it early, we went to the trailhead. You can smell the rich evergreens and foliage with every breath. It was a long day, over eleven hours there and back. Some of us as old pros on the trail and some of us brand new to the experience. One gentleman trained for seven months in preparation for this, he had never taken on such a challenge, but his trainer pushed him to get ready for one of the more challenging ascents in the New York High Peaks.

Well, we all worked hard. We made it to one of the most spectacular views I’ve seen in my life. I’ll put it right up there in the pantheon of vistas I’ve seen – Denver Rockies, Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, castle top view of Assisi. 5,114 ft at the top.

After a tough ascent with stretches that you’re climbing on bald rock with three-point contact, you’re refreshed by the cool alpine air and the stunning 365º scenery. We celebrated. We rested. We shared in a session right on the peak, now reflecting on the Transfiguration and our life’s journeys.

What goes up must come down. After fueling up, we made our way down the slow and grueling descent to where we started. It took longer going down, working a new set of muscles and pressure points but not helped by the exhausted set that got us up.

No matter. We made it there and back again, alive and capable. We did that. There were no shortcuts. Just tough, gritty work blessed by the Lord’s hands. If we can do that in the setting of granite and sap, we can certainly do it among paper and screens.

For myself, I found some clarity on what the next stage of RCO looks like.

Next stop, the tallest – Mt. Marcy August 25-27, 2023. Early Bird registration is now open!

— Adam Jarosz

Founder/Leadership Coach

Righteous Co.

This article is from Righteous Co.’s weekly newsletter, The Climb. If you want to see content like this and more, subscribe here to get The Climb right in your email box, every Righteous Wednesday. You can also follow along on Instagram @righteousco.


“It’s the job that’s never started as takes longest to finish.”

J.R.R. Tolkien

This year has proven to be a real challenge in business. A growing family and large ministry movements and pressures have sapped creative and productive energy from the entrepreneurial efforts – yet in this is a formation.

What would have been difficult even a year ago is becoming lighter to handle. It’s not unexpected of course, when you exercise, you can take more weight and reps. Positioning your feet on stable ground is easy to do, but when the boat is rocking you need to earn your sea legs. This formation is solidifying and clarifying the next steps with Righteous Co.

What is getting clear through this formation is a suite of options to help men grow – spiritually and productively. As a man, I see genuine masculinity under assault in society. I hear from men all the time of the struggles they face – faith, direction, commitment, fatigue, goals, and accountability with the families, lives, and dreams they lead. I feel all of this not because I’m on the clouds above it but because I’ve been working through it all myself.

Men need men as iron sharpens iron. How the Lord is working in this, in the time I can offer in this season is coming into the mountains this weekend with me. I’m not expecting to come down as Moses with stone tablets but simply letting the Lord work internally so I can give externally in service of my fellow man.

Pray for us as I’ll be praying for you!

— Adam Jarosz

Founder/Leadership Coach

Righteous Co.

This article is from Righteous Co.’s weekly newsletter, The Climb. If you want to see content like this and more, subscribe here to get The Climb right in your email box, every Righteous Wednesday. You can also follow along on Instagram @righteousco.

To The Mountains

“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.”

Theodore Roosevelt

We’re last call for our second Iron Ore: ADK Men’s Retreat. I’m excited to head back to the Adirondacks – the fresh mountain air, the green and sappy evergreens, and rocky vistas. Beautiful. It’s really God’s country out there. New York has some excellent natural features and the ADK is at the top of the list.

This is the backdrop to the ADK series as we tackle the top three mountains in NY. Last year and the year before the test run was Whiteface. Rigorous and wild, victory and defeat. A storm chased us off in the test but we came back to win it last year. This year, we’re on to number two with Algonquin.

The physical challenge is genuine but it’s only a part of the experience. Where the real metal is formed is in the heart of the retreat – to open up to what the Creator is calling you to do in this season of life. When do we make time for that?

The physical mountain is perennial, but the answers to the proverbial mountains in our life have answers. We don’t need to be stuck there. So as the saying goes, “Come with a why and leave with a purpose,” is true. We have extraordinary purpose, whether it is small or large, this life isn’t to be wasted. But sometimes we need to be proactive and make the time to get clear. That’s where this experience sits.

If you or a man in your life needs to make that space to get clear and tackle the challenge, it’s not to late. Message me and let’s get out there! If this isn’t the right time, we’re on for the last Adirondack high peaks next August 25-27 with the highest peak, Marcy. After this, there is no guarantee we’ll be back but we will move ahead with the next amazing round of Iron.

Pray for us.

This article is from Righteous Co.’s weekly newsletter, The Climb. If you want to see content like this and more, subscribe here to get The Climb right in your email box, every Righteous Wednesday. You can also follow along on Instagram @righteousco.

Make That Vacation Time!

“The end of labor is to gain leisure.”


I started my vacation time on Monday. I’ve got two weeks off from ministry and totally need the break – mentally, spiritually, and physically. But I don’t think there is anyone who appreciates this break more than my wife Ani, the rockstar who makes it all work at home. She gets the break too. 

I’m not great at the vacation thing in this season of life, maybe you can relate. There’s so much to do and two weeks doesn’t seem like a lot of time to do it. I have plenty of run-over from work on my mind. I’ll have finished vacation time by the time my head realizes I’m on it.

Taking a break is so important. Our minds need to take a step back to get a better field of view. To recharge. To refresh. Lord knows I need a recharge. 

While I love traveling, we’re not doing too much of that with the little ones right now. So we’re making the most out of local stops and the outdoors. It doesn’t have to be big and grandiose to get the same results. Whether you have a big budget or a little one, a lot of time or a little; make the most out of the break.

Be intentional! If you go into the vacation with questions about the next steps on your heart, give some time to pray and contemplate it. Let the aim of your vacation have a start and a finish to it, how do you want to feel when it comes to an end? What will you have to do to achieve that?

Put it on the calendar, give it a plan and a purpose, include who you want (or don’t), and set your budget. 

So when are you going on vacation next and why?

This article is from Righteous Co.’s weekly newsletter, The Climb. If you want to see content like this and more, subscribe here to get The Climb right in your email box, every Righteous Wednesday. You can also follow along on Instagram @righteousco.

80 Days to Iron

“Anyone who seeks truth seeks God, whether or not he realizes it.” 

St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

Summer is a couple of weeks away and as I write this, we’re eighty days from Iron Ore: ADK Men’s Retreat. As the season transitions, it’s a great moment to spotlight it. Our second in the series of being in the Adirondack high peaks – we’ll be venturing onto and up Algonquin Peak, the second-highest in NY. After conquering the third-highest with Whiteface last year, we’re ready for the next step up with 5,114 ft of tough incline and trail.

It’s not just about the physical challenge of course. We’re spiritual and mental creatures too. This retreat is designed for the man looking to climb the mountains in their life. We’re going to have an incredible group of intentional men who need to make space for clarity of what’s being asked of them in life. Everyone comes from a different discipline or vocation but we share the common thread of being a man formed by God with purpose. 

Jesus leads by example by retreating and recharging in the wilderness. There is grace to be found in God’s country and the crisp mountain air brings the soul to life. As men, we have designs and purposes set on our hearts – vocations and dreams to climb. As we let our Maker form us physically on the mountain we amplify the spiritual and mental parts of our being.

The retreat isn’t for everyone. It’ll be hard. You’ll be tired. We might have a storm chase us off. 


You’ll feel alive and charged up. You’ll come down from the mountain with greater clarity on the heart. We’ll cheer in invigorated fellowship over good bourbon when we get back to the bottom. You’ll have an encounter with the One who made you.  

This is the Iron Ore experience and I want you to prayerfully consider it. Registration is open. Want to see more information, click here. Questions, call me.

This article is from Righteous Co.’s weekly newsletter, The Climb. If you want to see content like this and more, subscribe here to get The Climb right in your email box, every Righteous Wednesday. You can also follow along on Instagram @righteousco.

Fire – A Shorty

Sour black smoke bellowed into the air and carried harshly into the woods beyond the homestead’s clearing. The frontier cabin popped and crackled in the heat, interior flames not yet escaping.

Jean-Pierre wiped his hands off with a handkerchief as the home burned behind him. The owner’s voices silenced from asphyxiation after being locked in were just a momentary embellishment. Vive la France.

The Frenchmen and his posse were finishing up their mission for the crown, the second of the day — the eighth of the week. A compatriot fired a salvo of Mohawk arrows into the front door. Another couple into the window sill, with intended precision.

Jean-Pierre thought about his family walking away from the growing blaze. This was for New France. They would be something here. This new start would fix his family tree for the next generations. Blood on his hands meant food in his children’s. The British were just expendable to this cause. Everyone was.

He took his spare tomahawk and lobbed it into the wagon’s side quarter panel. His eye was caught just above his splintered intended target to see a little dolly in the wagon.

Jean-Pierre didn’t recall seeing a little girl in the carnage. Did someone get away?

“Philippe, did you see a girl?”

“Non, pourquoi?” answered Philippe.

Jean-Pierre held the doll up with a stern face.

“Captain Jean-Pierre! Captain!” One of the younger compatriots ran from the woods screaming frantically and waving his arms, difficult to see but it looked like he had blood across his face. The Seasoned One, a veteran of the frontier took an arrow from his quiver and set it to sail into the young man’s chest. He never liked the garçon and now he was giving up their position in dramatic flair, it only seemed right to The Seasoned One. It wasn’t the first time he made such a decision but it would be his last.

The rest of the compatriots lowered and listened, forming a parameter around the front clearing. Each one quietly checked their muskets and powder. They’re here. Zut.

This band of irregular calamities didn’t need the escaped girl to give them away. While she was rescued, the Mohawk war band had been in pursuit with intent to kill. Not only was the British bounty lucrative, but the French were also playing games and causing scandal with their legacy. That itself was enough.

The Frenchmen thought they were clever but they would pay for their work. The flames began to break through the roof of the frontier home.

Silently, with only the sound of the landing arrows and cracking skulls, the first two compatriots were felled. Jean-Pierre shouted a command but it was too late for the planned course. Eyes set on the tree line, they didn’t see the four Mohawk warriors who had been stealthily working through the grass for the past thirty minutes to position the ambush. Before the Frenchmen could react to the assailants it was indeed over before a musket shot was fired.

The little British colonial would be brought to safety and placed with a new family. The Mohawks would be paid handsomely for their bravery. The French would pay dearly for their trouble in the region but not without drawing blood.

This was the frontier in the New World. Brutal and rugged. Competitive and dangerous. Old versus new. Life’s formative measures spawn the seeds of progress at the expense of another’s life’s formative measures. The war was not yet ready to begin but it was coming soon enough. The land was too small for all the competitors – in the end, the blood of the coming French and Indian War and the subsequent Seven Years’ War, would pave the way for Independence from all crowns.

3 Million – A Shorty

The fire grew intense — it needed to be on this cold early spring evening. The Man settled back into his seat after putting two more logs on. He pulled his fur overcoat tighter as he looked deeply into the flames. The light flickered and danced boldly across his weathered face.

The shore gently lapped as the water came up and retreated. Wave after wave created the white noise to trance the most active mind. The Man reflected, soul stretched farther than any man before him.

He exhaled sharply as a chill ran up his back and drew closer to the fire. The crimson light of the smoldering fire faded in the sand and rocks on the beach. His eyes followed the next source of light above him, the reflective shards of the shattered moon. Time trudged passed as The Man sat warming himself — feeling the searing heat felt on his knees and face but slow to warm his core.

The Man’s mind wandered as it often did to his time spent alone in life. He’s seen much. Loved some. Lost more. Fought some. Prayed more.

The fire crackled and popped. The orange and white embers at the heart of the flames oscillated color. The mature flame consumed with a peaceful allure.

The flames brought The Man’s mind back to sitting around the cooking fire with his daughters. There had never been anything better in life than returning from a hunt to his babies. They would run back and forth in their little moccasins from the fires back then, entertained by a simple stick game; how close could they run up with dried leaves on a stick and not have it catch fire. Then scamper backward giggling.

Life was much less complicated then, that was the life of living. No matter how much you’ve been given, time doesn’t heal all wounds. Outliving his daughters, tribe, country, kind, still sits with him all these years later. He holds onto the hope of seeing them again but he’s lost track of how much time he actually has left.


Since the life sentence was delivered by the messenger, The Man did his best. One sees much in three million years. Try as he may, death and age never found him. A hundred years pass since he was born as a Cheyenne and saw the rise of skyscrapers in New York. A thousand years pass to step foot on Ganymede. Ten thousand to see a genetic divergence from Homo sapiens. A hundred thousand to see the start of man’s final demise with the eruption of Yellowstone. A couple million more of watching and praying for lives lost eons ago.

The fire has since dwindled as he made yet another evening’s worth of reflection. The glowing hot tōtara embers radiated.

A set of footsteps approached in the sand and pebble mixture behind him in the dark early morning. The Man was unfazed. There was something that caught The Man’s attention, something he hadn’t heard in a long time, words.

He didn’t break his gaze from the coals, knees still roasting warm. Steam rising off him.

“Peter’s ready for you,” the messenger said in The Man’s native Cheyenne. A long pause without breaking gaze before The Man smiled. “You’re the last one,” the messenger continued in another language long extinct.

The Man rose from his seat and turned. Greeted his visitor and they walked away from the heat to go home.

Run To The Fire

I was talking to someone last week about the type of person they wanted to be, he told me that he wanted to be the kind of man that runs towards the fire, not away from it.

That really resonated with me in today’s climate. That’s a rare person indeed. Of course we all imagine ourselves the hero but when the flames are pouring out of a window, are we that person?

I’d like to think I am too. I was driving down the 33 a while back and I saw a house bellowing smoke off of one of the ramps. It was close so I pulled off quickly and followed a couple side streets to a house on fire. No response team was there yet. The fire was moving along, flames licking out some of the windows with a lot of smoke. It wasn’t a great part of town, many of the houses looked abandoned, this one included. I called 911 and named the address. Help was now on its way. It weighed on my mind that someone could be in there, unconscious. I was torn about going in to check, even going up to the door to see inside. Would I be a hero or would I be stupid? I didn’t know what I was doing. With no apparent distress I decided against it and watched. Help did arrive soon after and I watched as the teams did their work. I didn’t stay long to see anyone pulled out but I have wondered ever since, was someone in there? Could I have made a difference? I’ll never know.

Maybe it’s fear and self-doubt that keeps us back. Self preservation? Complacency? Maybe something else?

There are all sorts of proverbial fires that call us to action; fire with the family, relationships, work projects, life purpose, emergencies, etc. Do you want to be the kind of person who runs towards the fire? Or from it?