A Challenge in the Mountains

I signed up to take a unit of mountaineering at camp last summer. You were expected to carry all your food and clothes on your back and hike sixty-five miles during the seventeen-day period. I sure found out fast how to put to good use all those things I'd learned in the Christian Science Sunday School.

I'm from the Florida flatlands. Standing at the foot of a mountain, looking up, I thought, "This doesn't look so hard." And it isn't—just standing there looking at it. The trouble seems to start when you are about halfway, or even nearer the top. You get the feeling of exhaustion. Because the air at twelve thousand feet is somewhat thin, it can be difficult getting a good deep breath.

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And on top of everything, you begin to suspect that your cook partner maybe didn't take quite her share of the food, because your pack seems so much heavier than when you started out. Or that the girl in front of you is going too fast. What is she trying to do, set a record for the five-mile run?

With all the complaints there is one thing you always find beautiful—the landscape. It must be the closest thing to divine beauty itself. Majestic mountains outline the dark blue sky. Clear, cool streams bubble over smooth boulders and sometimes hold fish for hungry hikers. I find that when I am complaining, I tend to look down at my feet. Then something will draw my attention up. The minute I look up my weariness fades, because the scenery is so breathtaking.

In Sunday School class I was taught that "the Lord is the strength of my life." Ps. 27:1; Hikers really do have an unending fountain of strength to draw on. You never hear of God quitting or wanting a break while He is working! When we understand our relation to this omniactive power, we need fewer and fewer rest stops. At least I found that to be true.

God is Mind, and is never tired. Man, the expression of Mind, is never weary, either. Fatigue is just a human belief, not the truth of being. We have control over our physical bodies when we see that matter cannot suffer, because it has no sensation or intelligence. It is just a false, mortal picture.

Man is spiritual and has no life apart from God or divine Life. Man has the qualities of strength, intelligence, and fearlessness because God is his Life.

We are not fatigue-prone physiological beings who depend on lungs, muscles, raisins, and chocolate bars for energy. This is the true picture: We are the image and likeness of God. Our energy comes from Him, and our activity is to express Him perfectly.

I remember one of my Sunday School teachers telling me that there just isn't an inch of space where God isn't present. When you are in your sleeping bag, right smack-dab in the middle of a dark forest, it's comforting to know that God is everywhere, that you're surrounded with Love, and that the Christ, or Truth, is present to guard you.

I didn't get a chance to weigh my pack. But at one time or another some of us seemed to have problems with our packs being too heavy. Our counselor told us, "Try to be at one with your pack. Don't make it an extra something on your back."

That reminded me of something Mrs. Eddy writes: "Principle and its idea is one, and this one is God, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent Being, and His reflection is man and the universe." Science and Health, pp. 465-466. We coexist with God's whole, perfect, spiritual universe, in harmony.

Writing home to describe how I was getting along, I would say, "It's challenging!" Which means I had a good time but worked hard for it.

And that is how I would describe Christian Science—a challenging religion and way of life for a challenging time. It makes you work hard for spirituality; but then, the rewards are great.

Progress Wherever You Are
March 30, 1974

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