I didn’t have much of a choice in my own mind. We were on day 4 of grueling hike through the Highlands and gotten to the base of the Sgurr nan Spainteach, one of the Five Sisters of Kintail mountains, and the thought of staying at base camp for the day simply wasn’t an option.
One in our group had been injured the day before and several of us were sore, achy, and tired from trekking through the pocked earth that is the Scottish Highlands (with 50 pounds of gear and provisions each, mind you). So, our leader, Fathan Nathan Cromley and our guides decided we would make camp in the valley for a second night and leave everything but the essentials (water, food, emergency supplies) to hike to the summit. That also meant if you weren’t feeling up to the challenge of a 3,000 foot hike, you could opt for a day of reflection with our Lord in the tabernacle in the beauty of the valley. Not a bad option in the least!
But not an option I could take. I had signed up to go backpacking to have an adventure like none I’d experienced and knew if I sat in the valley all day while the rest of the group pushed their physical limits, I would regret it. Sore and weak ankles aside – the previous day’s “bog slogging” through muck had taken its toll – I taped ’em up, filled my water bottle from the river, and readied myself to push my own limits.
3,000 feet up.
The first third seemed like any other of our days backpacking, but the mountain quickly turned more treacherous as we zig-zagged our way up. Scrambling on our hands and knees the last hour, all I kept thinking was “How am I going to get back down?!”
Worry crept in as I thought, “I’m so tired. What if my ankles give out going down? What if it starts to rain again? I’m WAY less surefooted going down, I’ll definitely slip and fall.” Worry threatened to ruin our triumphant celebration at the summit. As we saw the rain clouds rolling in and hurried to begin the 3,000 descent my heart beat fast and I could feel myself fighting internal panic.
In the midst of my own storm, someone began, “In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…Eternal Father, I offer you the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son.” Nick had been faithful every day at leading the Divine Mercy Chaplet at 3 o’clock and as quickly as it came, my worry subsided. An internal pause helped me realize that despite having reached my physical limit on the ascent, the Lord was present to us, as He always is, and would be guiding my descent each slow, tired step. And with that I began my scramble back down.
The push to be fit today can easily be something superficial and only about thy physical, but when I pause and reflect it’s easy to see how intricately our souls and our bodies are intertwined. This is my goal for Soul Meets Body Fitness – to connect fitness with faith.