One with the Mountain

12 12 2010

Before I went with our youth on a ski retreat, someone said, “Remember…be one with the mountain.” I was…it hurts being one with the mountain. You hurt and your clothes get really wet – especially if you are one with the mountain as much as I was. I don’t think this is the “one with the mountain” my friend was talking about.

I learned a lot, though – about skiing; about my nature; about barriers that keep me from being one with God. It is funny how we gain new insight into our spiritual life through the ordinary (although some would say seeing me on skis is not ordinary). No wonder Jesus used parables to help people see – spiritually speaking. Here are some of my insights from the slopes – maybe you can relate:

“Click,” the second boot went into the ski binding. Immediately my muscles went into alert mode – “not normal…take control…get c-o-n-t-r-o-l.” My body stiffened. John, an excellent skier, was very patient with me. He was gentle with his instructions and helped me up when I was one with the mountain. John told me that one of the keys in reducing speed, turning, and maintaining control while coming down the slope was to shift my weight to the downhill ski. Another alert sounded from within – “This is bit strange…so you want me to lean downhill…the direction in which, when I fall, I could tumble for miles. It seems to me that my weight should be directed into the mountain…where it is safer.” But my experience proved this counter-intuitive thought to be true – weight on the downhill ski kept me on my skis, upright, at a slower pace, and gave me some since of control. John was telling me the truth!

I also learned I was trying to do too much. I was working too hard…trying to do it all myself. I did not trust myself. I did not trust the skis. And, at first, I did not trust or really listen to my instructor. I was holding on too tight to what I thought made sense and I was not listening to the voices of experience.

We do the same in our relationship with God and on our faith journey. When God offers us a new experience of faith; when our beliefs, bathed in tradition, are challenged; when we are urged to act out of mercy and grace or invited to let others help us – we stiffen. We become uncomfortable and want to take control. We close our ears. We do not hear our Instructor or we hear only what we wish.

Maybe living faith is counter-intuitive – loving our enemy; sitting down with those we hate; turning the other cheek; inviting the societal “lowly” to a feast fit for royalty; counting the last as being first; touching the untouchables; washing another’s feet. Do we believe God is telling us the truth?

Maybe we – as individuals, as church, as a society – keep our weight, our influence, shifted to the wrong foot…maybe unknowingly…maybe knowingly…maybe out of fear. Maybe we try to do too much on our own – we don’t trust our God-given gifts; we don’t trust ourselves; we don’t trust God’s gift of our faith-seasoned friends…we really don’t trust God. Maybe we don’t listen – or we hear what we want to hear – when it comes to a life bound to faith.

With almost everything we try in life – even with life itself – there will be falls and uncertainty. But if we get back up…if we try again…if we let go…if we don’t stiffen…if we listen and have faith…we move toward being one with God.

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One response

14 12 2010
Marsha Garrison

I love the way you make a hard to grasp spiritual truth touchable. “Faith is like…shifting your weight to the downhill ski when you’re speeding down the mountain.” Kind of reminds me of another story teller I know….

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