Ready for the rest of the hike? Well let’s do it! Remember where we were last week? Well, you do not have to remember, all you have to do is scroll down and read all about how I described the ascent ? How beautiful and serene it was? How it was so easy to get lost in the wonder-fullness of the place I was at, doing what I was doing. In Ireland they call these places, "thin places". Places where the divine is more easily encountered, than in other places. Since last week I came across the following; “Beauty serves....to prepare the soul for... encounter with God". That trail which was such a sacrament, revealing the presence, and the mystery of God in the beauty of his creation, now to say the least, has changed. The trail will still be a sacrament, it will demand more in depth thought….a lot of thought and reflection. It is in the storms of life we need the x-ray eye of faith to see the deeper meaning behind the obvious reality of pain, stress, and discomfort. The rain and hail sure made that trail different, and more difficult. There was great confidence on the way up. Now, as the rain began to gather and flow downhill, I had to go slow, and pick my steps. On the way up the rocks, that I avoided, now became a source of security. Strange??? Those rocks were a way to stop the slipping and sliding. The same can be said of the rock we call faith. What one time was a real pain for us, prayer, Mass, the Sacraments, moments of quiet, now becomes a source of peace and serenity. What once were seen as obstacles, are now seen as stepping stones “Storms of Life”, I believe, reveal their own sacraments to us as well.
A person of my age, and temperament has to be very cautious . That peaceful, serene trail is now, as I have said, a great challenge. In the beginning of the descent I skipped about to avoid the gathering pools. (Now that was a sight to see- my version of the jig!) After a time, I saw it was to no avail. My boots were getting really wet, as a matter of fact, they were soaked. Lo and behold, I reverted to days of long ago. Do you remember how GREAT it felt to jump into the middle of a puddle of water, much to the horror of your mother? She was not looking at my great joy, but to the washing and ironing that was waiting for her, as the result of my great adventure in to muddy water. Well here I am happy as Larry, whoever he was, splashing my way down hill, with plenty of rain, wind, hail, with flashing lightening, and rolling thunder. There was a great feeling that came with the buffeting. I was warm in my body, and the energy was good. Yes, it was good to be alive and I wanted to stay that way. When the lightening got really close, I had the thought, “Why not get to a place of shelter and wait this storm out?”. It was getting late. I had no idea how long that storm would last, it lasted a while. The sky looked as if, as we say in Ireland, “it was settling in for the evening”. So, I carried on down that wet sloppy trail, which in some places was a little stream. Some parts numb with freezing cold, the other parts really enjoying the long forgotten pleasure, of playing in the rain. On the was down, I was anxiously looking for familiar signs along the way that would tell me how much further I had to travel. There was a great sigh of relief when I saw the trail head sign. I now knew I was close to the parking lot and the warmth of my car. I could almost feel the warmth of the hot air. Obviously I reached the car. On came the heat. Then a change of clothes. Something to eat, and headed for home. Yes, it rained the whole way home. I have had some days to think, and reflect on that hike. How true to the spiritual life that experience was. How often do we find ourselves going along, again, happy as Larry. From what we can see life is going well. All the ducks are in line, and almost at the water. Our plans are working out, our expectations are somewhat being met. Most of the people in our lives are working and walking in step with us. That is me on the first leg of the hike. Then life happens. We now become aware, or in some cases are forced into awareness that this spiritual being is immersed in the totality of the human experience. That storm which hit me, in the physical, will hit every person on the spiritual level as well. When I am lost in the storm, I have to realize there is no place I will go to that Jesus has not gone to, and he is also there waiting for me to show up. He got wearied on His journey. He was buffeted by the storms. He was disappointed. He as the scriptures say: "He was like unto us in all things, except sin", and He died out of love for us sinners.
As human beings we can so easily, in a split second, go from being calm and serene, to being angry, hateful, and spiteful. We can go from being accepting to being resentful, in no time flat. Being Irish, I am in that group of people that will speak and act first, then think. I have to learn to be a responder, rather than a reactor. I am still in school for that one. I have to learn to slow down and read the signs of the time I find myself in. On my hike the changes around me were gradual, yet I missed them. I was so caught up in the good feelings of a great hike that the reality of where I was lost on me. My emotional needs joy and happiness were being met while all the same time I was putting myself in physical danger. When the rational side took over I made the healthy decision to get on the trail home. I have to learn to balance, or better still, to bring into balance the emotional and the rational. How often the signs of danger and trouble are there and we choose to ignore the challenge to, confront . How often are we so unaware of the changes that will of necessity, be brought about we continue in our dysfunction? To make matters worse, we blame God for what is happening to us, and where we are at. God has nothing to do with so much of the trouble and danger we find ourselves in. How responsible do we hold ourselves to be? It was not God who lead me into that danger, through what was an apparent good. Joe was responsible to take all factors into account and then make a decision, which I did not. What happened on the next hike? I was out a distance, looked up, and saw the dark clouds, see I learned. The trail looked great in front of me, it was very tempting to say, " just a little further".
No, this time I turned back. I barely made it to the car when, the heavens opened. Enough said.