"Every valley shall be lifted up and every mountain brought low."
Reflection by Donna Schaper
The singer songwriter Melody Gardot had a terrible bicycle accident that kept her in a hospital for 18 months. She described her ordeal as "like climbing Mt. Everest every day." She is back and has just put out a new album, appropriately titled, 'The Absence." Not every story of Everest has such a good ending but enough do that the climbers keep climbing.
It helps the climber to know that there are others who have climbed. I think of Edith Wharton's character, Mrs. Manstey, who lived alone for 18 years, watching the seasons change outside her Manhattan window. Then the landlady built an extension, barring the small view that she had enjoyed. She died the next day. What an accomplishment to have found a small view to enjoy on a daily basis. She climbed a little Everest every day.
I think of my mother visiting my grandmother every day after work in her South Carolina nursing home. My grandmother had a stroke and had to move south, where my mother lived. My grandmother not only hated the South, she did not want to be bathed by anyone "colored." My mother went every day at 3:30 to her home and pulled the pricking insults out of the staff's skin. Another Everest.
I think of people who no longer have their minds due to dementia – or those who have to take care of them, long after they have run out of money or care.
There are also people who live for years with diseases they know are progressive. Some days they even smile. I think of men in prison for stealing beer, or parents deported because legislators can't resolve laws. I don't know that all of their stories have "good endings" or even decent endings. I do know that enough do to let us sing "Climb Every Mountain" and mean our song when we sing it.
Thank God for Everest and those who succeed and fail to climb it. Amen
About the Author
Donna Schaper is the Senior Minister of Judson Memorial Church in New York City. Her latest work is 20 Ways to Keep Sabbath, from The Pilgrim Press. Check out her work at www.judson.org.