Two weeks ago I went off to climb on Ben Klibreck, one of the Munros. This hill is two hours and a half of driving from Elgin, and about one hour from the nearest town. Two friends of mine kept me company. As usual I took a big rucksack, fully packed with two maps, a compass, warm clothes, a waterproof jacket, food and drink, a torch and many other small but necessary things. The weight of my rucksack was considerable. My friends, less experienced in hill walking, took just small rucksacks, much lighter than my own.
First we had to reach the slope, which meant that we had to pass wet and muddy moorland. It took about two hours or so. There was one path, but it often vanished among the heather and grass, with water hidden underneath. As we dependent on landform features and changing weather condition we were forced to wear or take off our clothes, putting them into the rucksacks or pulling them out. But my friends had no additional space in their bags… So, their unused clothes swung in the wind strapped to the rucksacks.
At one particular moment we had to divide our group. I continued climbing up, they rested on a slope and then went back to the car. But without a map and compass they might get lost in the moorland, so I had to give them directions by mobile phone, looking at them from the ridge and a distance.
May I ask you something? Why do people prefer to take a small, light rucksack going to the hills? The answer is simple: nobody likes to carry heavy loads – except certain sports people. A more important reason to limit the weight of a rucksack is the belief that nothing bad is going to happen. And – can you imagine – quite often a situation proves this belief: weather is good and unchanging, nobody’s injured… But if the weather did change, covering everything with fog, rain or snow or if somebody got injured things could be serious. With no proper equipment it might mean death…
Tonight we are meditating on the mystery of the cross. The cross is associated with hardship and self-denial. The contemporary world suggests removing all things which make our life difficult; the world suggests making our life easier. Like the inscription on the buses in certain cities: “God probably doesn’t exist, so don’t worry and enjoy your life”. What does it mean? It’s simple: don’t worry about morality. This is like going on the hills with a small, light rucksack. The equipment seems good till the first obstacle.
So, don’t refuse the cross, moral values and responsibility of life. Carry the cross and be sure, that it makes you tough and strong; and in a hard situation in your life you will be well equipped – sufficient to survive.