The Company We Keep
We tend to focus on the highlight – what happened at the top of the mountain. We thank God for the deliverance of Isaac and the covenant God establishes. We are awed and humbled by the transfiguration of Jesus and the voice of God. The mountain top is affirming. The mountain top reminds us of God’s glory, grace, and covenant. The mountain top is no place to dwell though we, like Peter, James, and John may wish to pitch our tents there.
I remember trying to climb one of the hills in Rwanda when I was there with CRS. Another woman from the trip and I were lagging behind – we joked we were the flatlanders. She was from the coast and I was living in Michigan at that point. Neither of us were used to the elevation or the terrain. There was one of the farmers who took pity on us and walked with us. He was in flip flops and flying up the path with no problem. I am still in awe of his coordination.
I’ll never forget his patience with us or how he would grab our elbows if we started to slip. He would find reasons to pause and point out something to us – when that field of coffee was planted, his home, a village in the distance, a family member in another field. He paced these at just the moment when we were struggling in the thin air. The trip back down to our giant van was much the same. This man who I only knew for those couple hours, share his life with the two of us, walked with us, encouraged us, and made the journey beautiful instead of a burden.
Whether we are climbing the mountain and have that hope of revelation or we are sliding down in the dirt, wondering when we might hit bottom, most of our life is spent in the journey. The mountain top is a moment. The journey is where most of life happens. The question is what sort of journey will we undertake. With whom will we walk?
That climb was hard – it was dusty, rocky, and I am so clumsy. The people with whom I made that climb were the sorts of people we want with us – those compassionate souls who embody accompaniment, who will share joy and give strength. They didn’t remove the difficulties, they helped me recover when I fell. They could not shorten the journey or clear the dust, but the laughter and stories seemed to diminish the imposing path.
Whether you are climbing up or sliding down your mountain today, I invite you to pause for a few minutes in prayer. Think about those who are on the journey with you, make a list of the names that come to you. Enter into prayer with God and invite that God who reveals love and glory and covenant to help you see where there are healthy, life-giving relationships. Those people who accompany you with compassion and peace as well as those who may be on your journey kicking up dirt as they create an unhealthy relationship. Jesus discerned who to journey with up the mountain, who to invite as his disciples, who to form as his Apostles.
Spend time this week talking and listening to Jesus as you reflect on the people journeying with you – who are those to draw closer to and who might he be inviting you to recognize as harmful or toxic. If you are struggling with toxic or dangerous relationships, remember there are resources to help. An easy first call is to your diocese's Catholic Charities. You can search “Catholic Charities near me” to find your local agency.
You are a beloved daughter of God and God is faithful and loving. God desires for you to journey with those who are blessings, those who share strength and bring joy. The journey may be long and the road difficult, but you are not alone. You are loved.