Tonight at dinner, counselor Justin Hart asked to make an announcement. When Justin speaks, it’s always worth listening, so I called for everyone’s attention and handed over the mic. He said, “Fellows, we need to step up our care of the Men’s restroom here in Eden Hall. For the past couple of days it’s gotten to be pretty bad, and that’s just not the Rockmont way. We don’t leave a mess for other people to clean up here.”
Justin is only in his first summer, and he already knows “the Rockmont way.” The Rockmont way is not just to pick up your own trash, but to consider any mess as yours to address. Sometimes it means cleaning it up yourself, but more often it means standing up to give the work back to the people whose work it is to do. That’s called leadership, and it’s one aspect of the Rockmont way. Justin was exemplifying the Rockmont way even as he was calling the whole community to live up to it.
We are not sure exactly how to define the Rockmont way, but we know it is a real thing. Years ago I was cross country skiing in New Mexico with Thomas Cason and another acquaintance. We were miles in the backcountry, on a cold, crystal clear day. The place was stunning, but it had been hard work to get there, and the acquaintance was complaining. We tried all kinds of positive encouragement, but nothing seemed to help him look up and recognize the stunning beauty around us. Finally, Thomas pulled up to me and said, “I’m sorry, Stan. That’s just not the Rockmont way.”
I knew then that there was such a thing as the Rockmont way. It’s a real thing, but it is hard to define. It means looking through something hard to see something good. It involves accepting work and throwing yourself into it until it becomes joyful. It means joyfully saying yes to opportunities to serve, especially if that involves working together (usually with music) to make something more beautiful, like the dishes or the dining hall floor.
Sometimes the Rockmont way means finding joy in getting lost on the mountain, like Cabins 20 and 21 did last week. They turned west when they should have turned east and wound up on the other side of the mountain in the nearby Bee Tree community. (We are well known there because this is a classic mistake.) These two cabins came back celebrating, standing tall, and laughing because they had been down a tough road together, and discovered resources and reserves they didn’t know they had. Along the journey they discovered “the Rockmont way.”
The Rockmont way is admittedly a broad term for a narrow way. We use it widely, but the way itself is not easy or obvious. We use it because it calls us into something extraordinary. It calls us to do ordinary things, like cleaning up a restroom, or standing up to lead, or walking in the woods with extraordinary attention and care. It’s a joy to work and live with people who are aiming for something so beautiful and good and rare.