“I’ll be darned if a 500-meter hike is going to beat me,” I said to Fred a few minutes before I crashed. There I am, flat on my back before the mountain.
We began the Edith Cavell hike in Jasper at eleven-thirty in the morning. Because of construction on the access road, we needed a permit to travel on it, but the earliest one we could get was for eleven. Considering it was Canada’s 150th anniversary and the National Parks were free this summer, we were lucky to get a permit at all.
It was only supposed to be a 3-5 hour hike, only 8 km return, only 500-meter elevation gain. Anxious to get going, we didn’t eat lunch before we started and didn’t stop for a break every hour like we usually do. It seemed like the high point we were heading for was just up ahead, but of course, it wasn’t. I kept thinking we were almost there and envisioned lunch at the top, so I kept pushing–even though my body was running on empty and my feet like lead.
A hundred meters from a lookout, I had to stop and eat something. I sat for a few minutes, expressed my determination to Fred, then pushed on.
Five minutes later I had to sit down. When I did, I felt light-headed and knew I had to lie down before I fainted.
I lie there for a good ten minutes. Eventually, I was able to sit up. I ate my lunch like a chastened child, while others pressed on to the summit. No matter how much I wanted to join them, I couldn’t. At least not until I had recovered my strength.
On a YouTube video, I heard James Finley talk about moments of contemplative awakening. These are humbling moments in which we become sharply aware of our limitations. We see how tiny, imperfect and powerless we are. This humility is almost too much to bear, yet we find ourselves embraced by wonder. A deeper awareness has awakened: we are a tiny part of a limitless God who is unlimited Love.
When I imagine what this looks like, I picture myself on that mountain trail, flat on my back surrounded by beauty. There I am–just as I am–as much a part of that beautiful mountain as the flowers, rocks, and snow.
By God’s grace, I revived and was able to finish the hike. Fred and I said very little when we reached the summit. We sat for a long time filled with awe and gratitude.
Later we discovered we had, in fact, climbed nearly 800 meters, but I got the point. I got the point.
On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. –John 14:20 (NIV)
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Okay, it’s a bit of a stretch to call this love mischief, but it’s pretty incredible none-the-less. On that Edith Cavell hike, we came across two marmots who did this right on the trail. We watched them spar for a full five minutes before one chased the other off defeated.