Historical setting:563 C.E. Foothills of the Pyrenees
This new morning we are ready for the climb but an early rain dampens every leaf and twig and greases rocks for slipping. Horses, left to their own ideas would zig and zag upwards through this woods and so we learn from them how to ascend on all of our pairs of feet. It isn’t just the branches reaching all around us to snag us from our mounts, we choose this mode of walking and leading the horses so that each horse and man can get firm footing on this slippery slope and no one will come up lame. The donkey doesn’t seem to mind the climb even though we have done nothing to lighten his burden. The climbs are slow but steady, first to the gee then to the haw, up and up through the wood in a path of Zetas.
Each time we reach what we thought was nearly the mountaintop the next turn only reveals a higher mountain.
Dear God, help us see that this ascent is doable. Amen.
So now the fog has snuffed the long view and we can only see our journey one step at a time. I suppose this has relieved the anxiety caused by our attempts to look ahead for an end to this slope. I should say “Thank you God for making our ascent seem doable” but I was hoping more for a holy answer in the form of a miraculous summit. The fog definitely focuses our aspirations onto only one single footfall at a time. Stopping for a mid-day meal is fine on the slant, but for our night’s rest we will surely need something level.
Now we are able to find a particular flatness of rocks wide enough for two men, two horses and a donkey. And we are near a grassy shallow for grazing. But we start this new day still smothered in fog. One fine thing about a mountain is we don’t need to see where we are to gather our directions. Up is up and down is down, and we have our minds set on going up at least until the earth under our feet gives us no other choice but down; and then we know we are at the top. So does that mean that much talked about exhilaration of reaching the apex is simply a down-pointing position of the foot?
Oh, wait a minute. Now I see.