When the End is in Sight

A colleague of mine recently shared this wisdom:

The last ten feet of climbing a mountain are the most dangerous. Partway up the slopes it is easy to remember to have three points of contact, to check handholds and foot placement, and all the other things the climber needs to do. But when the end is in sight, it is easy to forget all of that and rush to the summit. All of the focus required for climbing takes its toll on the spirit. Physical and mental exhaustion are real. Seeing the goal within reach brings with it an urge to rush to the apex. And nothing in mountain climbing is as dangerous as rushing.

I’m not a mountain climber. I do remember a parallel bit of wisdom from a childhood skiing on snow-blanketed hills with my Ski Patrol parents. Those winter-weathered first responders always said the most dangerous run wasn’t the black diamond run or the moguls or the bowl. The most dangerous run of the night was the last one. That’s because our muscles are tired and shaky. We are looking forward to a warm fire and beverage, the hugs of our friends or family… or just the bathroom to empty the full bladder held while we try to squeeze in “Just. One. More.”

That’s when we’re most likely to make a mistake, misjudge the distance or the depth or our own remaining strength, and get injured.

With vaccines for COVID-19 beginning to roll out across the country – vaccines that some in our community are already beginning to receive – the end of this pandemic looks like it’s in sight. (Even if it will stretch into summer or even early fall.) We are so very eager for some “return to normal.” Our willpower is worn. Our holding power feels shaky. And we are tired of remembering to wash our hands, keep our distance, avoid other people, wear our mask, and all the other little rules that reduce the risk of infection. It has drained our spirits.

Maybe the mountain climbers and skiers among us can lend us their wisdom right now.

These next months are important. We will keep monitoring county guidelines and infection rates. We will continue to worship online and in those limited in-person prayers. We look forward to the warmer weather and the opportunities it opens up for safer gatherings outdoors. We ask you to continue to practice all those things that keep us safe: wearing masks, washing hands, maintaining distance, getting vaccinated when it’s available and medically appropriate for you.

The goal is not to get to the zenith – or the ski lodge – the fastest. The goal is to get all of us there safely.

In Christ’s Love,

~Rev. Christina