I just spent five amazing days exploring some of the most beautiful places our nation has chosen to preserve. I camped with friends for two days in Zion National Park and then drove to Bryce Canyon National Park to spend a few hours. (We also made a stop at the Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada after getting our rental car stuck in the desert sands, but that’s a story better told in person). While there was a lot that was closed in the parks due to weather damage and snowmelt, the places we got to see were stunningly beautiful and now as I sit here in a coffee shop I’m realizing just how much I miss the mountains.
Aside from the views at the top, the journey of hiking up and down through peaks and valleys is immensely rewarding. Hiking up switchback after switchback can be grueling (though, we made friends along the way), but it’s experiencing all of that work, anticipation, and labor that make the mountain peak so rewarding. And you stay there for as long as you can, but eventually, you have to go back down and the birds-eye view of the park will slowly grow more distant and eventually disappear behind you.
Such is life. Our individual journeys are filled with ascents, peaks, descents, and valleys. So is our journey as a group. We are hiking some unfamiliar paths together and it certainly can be grueling. It can make you want to turn around mid-way up the climb and go back down. It’s too hard. No one is helping me. People are hiking faster than me. This path seems dangerous. Am I on the right path? I don’t see anyone else. Or in the case of one of the friends I was with: I don’t want to do this hike. I’m tired of hiking.
One of the fun things about both national and state park trail systems is that you can take different trails to see the same area from a completely different perspective. And we need perspective. All of our perspectives. We all have a unique and individual experience with UBC and with our wider community. It is equally as beautiful and important as any other perspective.
Ultimately, we are all on this journey together. And this journey is grueling. But that’s why we help each other out. There are those around us who are struggling to finish the “hike” we started together. Some people will let you know that they are struggling. Some people will keep their mouth closed and try to navigate themselves. While gaining all of the perspectives with an open ear and genuinely unbiased mind is necessary to fully appreciate the beauty of what we have and where we are, we need to make it onto the same trail if we want to make it to the same peak. Together. Without anyone falling behind.
Then yes, we’ll come down from that peak eventually. But we’ll hike down together so that we can again climb as a community and not as individuals.
Minister of Music and Outreach
P.S. The two friends I was with had a Catholic upbringing so all of my “We’re marching to Zion, beautiful, beautiful Zion” jokes were not appreciated. (It worked for everything! We’re hiking in Zion…. We’re camping in Zion… We’re driving to Zion… We’re cooking in Zion… We’re s’moresing in Zion… We’re walking in Zion… We’re flying to Zion… no laughs. Catholics, am I right?)