NORMAN — Psalm 19 begins with the words, “The heavens are telling the glory of God.” Those of us who are outdoor people might agree with that even today.
Certainly we know that the skies of Oklahoma have been filled with brilliance, with drama, with anger and certainly with absolute beauty this year. The skies also, when we study them a bit, continue connecting us with that awesome power of our creator and this journey we call “life.”
I hope you can say that your journey is taking you to some beautiful and inspiring places.
When I think of places that inspire me, I think of The Black Hills. Mount Rushmore comes quickly to mind, but there is another equally inspiring monument there, still being created, that also deserves our awareness: the Monument to Chief Crazy Horse.
Over two football fields wide, taller than the Washington Monument, Chief Crazy Horse’s head alone is large enough to hold all the 60-foot tall heads of the presidents carved out on Mount Rushmore in itself. The monument carving is a huge undertaking.
Korczak Ziolkowski was asked in 1939 by Chief Standing Bear of the Lakota to carve a monument honoring Native Americans, “so the white man would know the red man has great heroes, too.” Korczak, as he would from then on be referred to, accepted, beginning his work in 1947.
Since then, hundreds of thousands of tons of rock have been blasted from the mountain top and it is still a work in progress.
Korczak died in 1982 and the work is carried on today by his wife, Ruth, and seven of their children. It is supported through donations, and no tax dollars have ever been used. Thousands of people visit every year to be inspired by the care and dedication to the task this family continues to exhibit.
Korczak was buried in a tomb built at the base of the mountain, instructing his wife to carry on the work but “to do so slowly, so as to do it right.” He meticulously trained his children in the art of sculpting rock through the years so they would be prepared for the task.
He also carved his own epitaph, cutting words into a three-quarter inch steel plate to be put over on the door of his tomb. It reads: “Korczak — Storyteller in Stone — May His Remains Be Left Unknown.” This monument to Chief Crazy Horse was his life’s work.
Because of the enormity of the monument to Chief Crazy Horse, and because of the sensitivity to the message it expels into the world from its heights, because of the painstaking work involved over a lifetime, it is almost guaranteed that the life and story of Korczak and Chief Crazy Horse and the Native Americans they represent will not be “unknown,” contrary to his wishes.
I am convinced that the focus of his work will live forever as a reminder of this period of history and as a tribute to the Native Americans who remain an integral part of the fabric of our culture and society.
“Life,” as we enjoy and live it today, is filled with awesome experiences and moments of inspiration. The compelling pace and pressures of “keeping up” and “getting more and more stuff” often keeps us from even seeing or taking in the really essential things of life.
Take a good look at the sky, the stars and the beauty of the world around you right now. Enjoy what you have and share it with others. The “heavens” are still reflecting the glory of God.