Hiking Life: Attaining the Summit

Carmelite Musings

By Sister Mary Scholastica, O.C.D.

While walking along the mountain paths of Wrightwood, thoughts of life and how I approach life kept filtering through my mind.  The altitude, the creaking knees, the inclines (and I mean the INCLINES!), the pace, the fresh air, my focus… All of this made every walk an interesting life introspection.

Here’s what some of the experience was like.  When getting ready to walk, debating on whether or not I REALLY wanted to… but because I had made the commitment with someone else, I went.  A slow on-ramp in getting the muscles in motion.  At the bottom of each hill, looking up skeptically.  Focusing on my breathing because mid-way up the incline, I realized how I actually don’t breathe properly.  It might have sounded to my neighbor like I was hyperventilating, but it was actually purposeful breathing.  Who believes that?!  ?  Since when was huffing and puffing purposeful breathing?!?

Looking up to the heights at times was super daunting.  Yet, as I was winding upwards, looking up reminded me of where I was going and how great it would be when I got there.  At times, I looked at the ground, focusing on my feet, thinking very consciously:  “One step at a time, one step at a time, one step at a time.”  However, intermittently I needed to look up to see that I was actually making progress.  At still other times, forcing myself to “just do it”.  Sometimes that’s all it takes – the drive and commitment to “just do it”.

It’s the daily grind – one step at a time and eventually, we’re not even sure how we got there, but we got there.  It’s also the story of our lives.  We can drag our feet, complaining on the way up, becoming discouraged by the daily grind, looking up on occasion and when remembering to, we are inspired and keep at it, looking down and determinedly focusing on one step at a time.  Sometimes, we have the “don’t think about it and just do it” mentality.  Then we get tired and feel like going back.  Then, suddenly, a second wind, a burst of energy or inspiration, and again we determinedly focus on attaining the summit.

After each hike, I was always glad I went. It cleared the mind, helped the body, renewed the soul.  Throughout our lives we encounter mountains we need to journey across.  The hills and valleys actually strengthen us for whatever is to come and the plateaus give us a bit of respite so we can catch our breath.  The outcome of it all is hopefully for each of us, one step at a time, looking upward and in the end, reaching our final destination, attaining the summit – Heaven!