One Mountain at a Time
Updated: Jun 10, 2020
One of my first hiking experiences was in a beautiful canyon in the middle or Orange.
It’s called Peter’s Canyon. I had met some new friends at church, and this was our first real “hang out” – it was all very exciting.
Until, that is, we started climbing a very large red mountain in the middle of the park.
Ok, it was more of a hill, or as I now like to call it: “the dreaded red hill.”
Soon after we started climbing, I realized that I was out of my depth. For someone who was used to running on a treadmill at an incline of "Level 1", I was not used to true uphill exertion for an extended period of time.
Less than halfway up, my calves ached and my lungs huff and puffed. Two thirds of the way through I wondered why I had signed up for this. Finally, I took the last slow steps and made it to the top. I was rewarded by the most beautiful view.
That’s when my love for hiking began.
James and I returned to the dreaded red hill at Peter’s Canyon this past weekend – and I was reminded of another important lesson I learned when I started climbing mini mountains.
The first one is the hardest.
After climbing to the top of dreaded red hill, there are at least 8 or 10 more small hills that you can climb in Peter’s Canyon. We did them all – and none of them was as hard as the first one.
In fact, I started looking forward to the climb. I got excited about how easy it felt each time.
I can’t help but believe that we all have mountains in our lives that we avoid climbing. We see them there. It looks tall. We know how much effort it is going to require, and we don’t want to do it. It’s easier to walk around then up. It’s easier to stay where we are than move forward.
Progress is not for the faint at heart.
These mountains can be given to us – at work, in our families, in our spiritual lives and in our culture. We can choose not to advance, not to climb, or we can climb. It’s going to be hard. It’s going to feel uncomfortable. It’s going to take every ounce of our energy and it’s going to make us question life as we know it.
But that view at the top… it’s worth it.
I recently read a book that rocked my world that I will be writing about sometime soon.
Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates is about gender inequity around the world. Her thesis is that when you lift women up, you lift us all up. The fact is that when we hold others down, especially because we consider them to be “other” or “different,” it hurts us all.
There is no progress. No compassion. It’s liking putting a dam in our heart – the love can’t flow. And where love can’t flow, there is little left to share.
The same goes for racial inequity. When we lift all races up, we lift us all up. But, it’s not easy. We can’t begin the slow, hard work of correcting that inequity until we start climbing the mountain together, until we come face to face with the things about our society that are simply unfair and the product of centuries of bias.
We can choose to see that mountain and walk around it. Or, we can see that mountain and we can begin to climb.
I sometimes wonder if it’s the words we are using to talk about the issue of “white privilege”. It’s hard for those of us with any sort of privilege to admit that is the case – especially when some may not feel that way based on their own life story and heart ache.
In some ways, I think “white privilege” may not be the right term, as much as “white blindness.” We are blind to racial injustice because we do not experience it. We are deaf to the reality of minorities because it may not be ours.
The Bible is filled with metaphors about people turning a blind eye and deaf ear to the truth of the gospel and those that are hurting.
Jesus did not. He joined those in pain – he saw them and championed them and weeped with them. Jesus said: “Whoever has ears let him hear.” (Matthew 11:15)
Now, is the time to open our ears and our eyes to the lived experience of those around us and be part of the solution.
It’s going to be uncomfortable. It’s going to take a lot out of us. It will break our hearts. There is no guarantee that things will change for the better in our generation. I hope they will.
But, once we climb one dreaded hill, I can tell you this:
The next mountain will be easier.