Years ago as a young man I saw a sign at a trailhead that led into the back country of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the Inyokern National Forest. It read, “Leave only footprints-take only pictures.” This statement has been indelible on my mind through the years as I have hiked and horse-packed into the back country of the western states. It became vital to me from that day on that I leave as little evidence as possible when I venture into the majestic mountains and wilderness or the pristine lakes and valleys. On the other hand I realized I could take with me something of great value. I could take the rich memories of being with family and friends in places yet unblemished by the lasting imprints of a developing society. This thought began to translate into other parts of my life. It became my goal to leave a smaller footprint with my life and a bigger handprint of God.
There has been much talk lately about a person’s “carbon footprint.” This refers to the lasting impact one person makes in their lifetime of living on planet Earth. It is determined by the fuels we burn, the non-renewable resources we consume and the pollution we produce. The size of your carbon footprint is dependent on things such as the size of vehicle you drive, the expanse and efficiency of the home you inhabit and the waste you left behind. The size of your carbon footprint will dictate the blessings or struggles for future generations because of your impact on the earth’s condition after your life has passed.
Because the life of simplicity is a life that prioritizes, downsizes and slows its pace, it is a life that accomplishes much but uses less. It is a life that cares about humanity and the generations to come that will inhabit the earth. Our desire should be to leave a small human footprint but a lasting, large handprint of God. The handprint we leave is an imprint on the hearts and memories of the people whose lives we touch.
[Exert taken from Small Footprint, Big Handprint – How to live simply and love extravagantly]