This was the hardest day on the journey so far. I don’t remember the climb up the mountain into the tiny village of O’Cebreiro to have been this difficult and treacherous. A woman fell off the side of a steep incline as a small herd of cattle came at her from around the bend. I heard her screaming and another pilgrim nearby told me he saw what had happened. We both went to the edge and stayed with her until she was able to get her bearings. Then we helped her get up onto the path. She was totally fine, thanks be to God. I saw her later on in O’Cebreiro and she seemed great.
Mountains figure quite a bit in Scripture and in many of the spiritual writings in a number of religious traditions.
Jesus brought Peter , james and john up the mountain of Transfiguration… They “ascended” this mountain to experience jesus in his glory. But ascending ANY mountain always involves discomfort and even pain.
Ascending the Galician mountains was very difficult and painful for me. St. John of the Cross titled his most famous poem as the Ascent of Mt Carmel. This poem, in which we get the Dark Night of the Soul, is a beautiful metaphor on the soul’s journey to God being a struggle like ascending a mountain. In the struggle, we gradually surrender our selfishness and ego, our “false self”, and allow the Spirit of Christ to possess our hearts. We then become rooted in our “true self” , the self rooted in God. When we live out of this self, our lives have purpose and joy.
Ascending to God involves sacrifice and letting go, never an easy endeavor. This journey has reminded me that God calls each one to accept the challenge to “ascend ” in spirit the mount of transfiguration. But it will most certainly involve many difficulties
It is easy to live in the false security of the self that clings and controls and manipulates life. If i am this kind person, I will not be a good person to be around.
Let us join the saints as we ascend out of this way of living into a life of selfless love. The tears that we shed as we ascend are tears of remorse at how much we have wasted life. The greatest enemy of this ascent is fear, the fear to change and be changed.
If we surrender to the ascent, our tears of remorse will be transformed into tears of Joy.
Buen camino. Fr. Frank