Jack had many, many adventures during his time in the Marines. The best thing about it for him was the people he served with. He grew to respect them and loved them like brothers.
Nearing the end of his time in the Marines, Jack worked for a while at a bible camp. It had been a strange journey to get there, involving a friend who was a youth director inviting him to chaperon a ski trip, and later, be an assistant in the youth group. He did both, with the understanding that he would not proselytize to the kids, but probably challenge them as to why they believed what they did. His youth director friend had agreed. As time went on though, Jack found himself conflicted by his disbelief. Soon he came to believe that yes, God did exist, but that no organized religion held all the answers. He had become a seeker of the truth, just as Larry Perrault had challenged him to do.
His time at the bible camp was challenging only in that he did not go blindly along with the faith that was put forth there. But he did meet some amazing people who helped him develop his faith, and one particularly beautiful woman who would later become his wife.
One of the people he hung out with was a guy named Jay Diers.
The two would often travel to Sioux Falls for a change of pace, or go out on photography sessions, shooting things in nature. Jack had heard that Pipestone was not far from the camp, and one autumn day the two drove up to visit.
Pipestone, Minnesota, is the home of the pipestone quarries, where according to books Jack had read, early Native Americans dug out the soft, red soapstone to make their peace pipes with. When the two arrived, Jack began his alternative education. What the history books don’t mention is that Native Americans still quarry the stone, and still make the pipes. They are called Canupa (cha-NOO-pah) or sacred pipes. The two walked around the quarries, and both of them felt a very strong presence. A strong feeling that this place was really a holy place. It was not a feeling Jack had often, and could only think of one other place that had the same feeling. Before they left, Jack worked up the courage to ask one of the park employees about obtaining some pipestone. She was Native and directed him to her house in town, where her son would sell him some.
When they arrived at the house, an older man came out and after hearing Jack’s request looked him over with a critical eye.
“What are you going to do with it?” He asked.
“I don’t know, really.” Jack answered. “I may carve it someday, but for now I’ll probably keep it as a reminder of my visit.” Jack didn’t want to sound too swirly or new-agey and say it would remind him of how holy the place felt, and perhaps a piece of the pipestone would contain some of that holiness that Jack could be near.
“You gonna sell it?” the man asked, still seeming doubtful as to whether to sell some.
“No.” Jack said, surprised by the question.
After a few more long seconds of deliberation, the man finally agreed to sell some to Jack.
“How much you want?”
“How much will this get me?” Asked Jack, holding out fifty bucks.
The man grunted, and headed over to a box filled with large chunks of the red stone. He handed a couple of cup sized rocks to Jack, and cut a chunk off a larger piece that ended up being about the size of a two inch thick dinner plate. After a little silent deliberation, he added another saucer sized, inch thick scrap to the haul.
Jack was ecstatic. He thanked the man again, and again, and then he and Jay headed back to camp. He wrapped his new rocks in a bandana and tucked them in a drawer, wondering what on earth he was going to do with so much of it. He left a chunk out to look at, a reminder of the visit.