Living here in the beautiful Desert South West, there are a lot of places to do nice day hikes. Some of them are technically pretty easy, and some of them are very challenging. Some are long trails with slow inclines while others are short but steep inclines. Still others fall someplace between the two. All of them take a lot of endurance in stamina or strength. And all have a reward at the pinnacle.
Do you ever have those days that it feels like every step is like climbing up a mountain? You know the kind of day...
The kind of day when it feels like you are hiking a long trail with a heavy pack on your back. Each step you take physically feels like you are battling the hill, trudging your way slowly up it, step by step. Your is pack weighted down by too little sleep, spreading yourself too thin, having to be five different places at once, and juggling all of you day to day responsibilities to make the climb any easier.
Or there is the kind of day when it is not physical exhaustion, but mental exhaustion that is making your traverse difficult. The tasks in life that you are facing - taxes, putting kids through college, meeting the deadlines at work, planning your next career move, feel like boulders in the path that you must make your way over. The thought of taking the next step is overwhelming and over-weighting.
Then there is the kind of day that the uphill trek is slowed and complicated by emotional exhaustion. The dealings of relational life send rocks tumbling down that we must dodge or catch so we can continue on. Rifts in family or marriage, sickness, emotional stressors of raising kids careen at us causing our ascent up the hill to seem near impossible.
Whatever the kind of day it is, we look at the mountains we are hiking up and you get so caught up in the elevation and path that we must climb to get to the top that we just can't seem to wrap our brains around how we are going to get there. To get to the top, we must dig deep from the bottom of our souls, carry on even when we feel like giving up, and climb even when the muscles of our wills are crying out from the pain of being worked to its limit.
But take heart.... There is a reward.
At the top of each mountain is a pinnacle. That pinnacle holds the gift of a panoramic view of the valley we have ascended from.
Every hill we traverse has the reward of a new vantage point. If we digest and really reflect on our journey to the top of the hill, we see our world from a point of clarity and distance. Yes, we may be tired and need a moment to catch our breath and let our bodies rest. But in that moment our eyes are open to what lies ahead of us as well as the accomplishment of what we have overcome to stand at the top of the climb. Our resolve is strengthened, but our hearts are softened as we see what is possible, and feel for those that are struggling up the trail.
How do you see the hills in your life? Have you let them strengthen you or defeat you?