Written by Eve Hamilton, Wyoming Catholic College Student
I starred at the ground below me, immediately sending my brain into panic. I was 40 feet off the ground, suspended in the air by a rope and some scraps of fabric they called a harness. The climbing shoes crushed my toes as I strived to cling to the rock, my fingers sweating through the chalk that was supposed to dry them out. Rock climbing was a terrible idea, and I had five more days of it ahead.
I had signed up for a weeklong trip of climbing in the glorious state of Utah for fall break. A group of fellow students and I were excited to take a break from school and have an adventure. However, this was not why I went. It was a challenge given to me by a friend. I wanted to show that I had improved, both physically and mentally, from the semester before. Yet as I looked up at the route and realized that I could not make it to the top, the familiar feeling of failure came over me. Five more days of this seemed to be my fate.
That night, the group gathered around the fire for prayer and discussion on the wonder of God’s creation. I had offered to read an essay, written by the same friend who had challenged me to go on the trip. It was an essay about making God the end of our journey, even if the path is difficult. We might want to go another way, that of the world, but it is not one that leads to happiness. However, there is still a chance to turn back, even if we think it is impossible to do so. God made Moses a political leader, a peasant girl from France a general of a great army, and a fourteen-year-old girl from Nazareth the Queen of Heaven and Earth. He can most certainly help us attain greatness. All he asks is that we be soft clay in his hands so that He may make us a masterpiece.
As we sat there reflecting on the essay, I realized how much it related to my trip. With climbing, you have one goal: the top of the route. It is literally an uphill battle, with each move tearing at your fingers. There are many different routes around you, but it is foolish to venture from the one you’re on and attempt another’s. When this path fails, you will swing and scrape against the wall, bringing more harm to yourself then if you had only fallen down a foot or two on your own path. Yet you do not plummet to the ground, but you will be caught on the rope. There is belayer below you, ready to catch you if you fall. You can call for them to give you slack or tension to the rope, depending on the difficulty of the climb. This activity, with all its trials, reminded me of the life of a Christian. There is the goal of God, and he will help us if we ask. He only requests our trust.
Upon this realization, I was determined to complete the rest of the week with this in mind. Each climb brought its own particular struggles, but they also helped me to trust my belayer, as well as my own ability to complete the goal with their help and guidance. However, there was one question that still troubled me until the final day. What was the point of the climb? There is the goal of the top, but what is the reward of this? At the end of the route, you have the opportunity to turn from the rock you have been so focused on and look at the breathtaking view that was behind you. The valleys and mountains, speckled with trees, are just a glimpse at the glory of God. How much better are the rewards of our earthly life? We will not only get a small reflection of God’s glory, but will see him face to face in his eternal might and goodness. This thought finally convinced me that every fall that I have had and every trial I will face is not some horrible joke for God to laugh at. It is instead a test, to show me the one thing required—to place my trust in Him so that I may also experience the bliss of the Heavenly Cosmos.