We hiked a volcano. Not every day you can say that, but today I can. We stood this morning at the bottom of the 8,000 foot Volcano Pacaya, Guatemala. As an chronic asthmatic experiencing her first trip in high altitudes, it was intimidating as I looked up the arduous path. Earlier in the week we had hiked Volcano Ipala I and I had a scare halfway up. Taking an inhaler for the second time and not being able to find my breath for some long minutes, I felt panic set in. The air is thin and my lungs constrict and hurt as they try to do their job.
This time I was prepared to take it slow and try to learn as I hiked. To listen to my body. We started the trail up a steep dirt path where the dirt feels more like sand as we push our way out of each step. I gazed to my right to see an even larger volcano looming in the distance. The clouds rested on it’s top creating the illusion of a beautiful yet destructive being. With no air to spare, I spoke very little and had a lot of time to think.
I learned quickly that this trip to the top was going to draw comparison to what I have been learning in my own life lately. Taking one step at a time. As I learned in Italy, giorno dopo giorno…day by day. To stare at the path far in front of me was daunting. It was easy to get quickly overwhelmed at the thought of all of those footfalls to come. Instead I concentrated on the path just in front of my feet. As I did this, I had room to be aware of my breathing and steady it to a calm.
I wasn’t alone. My friends were by my side, and when my load seemed full and heavy, they offered to take some on their own backs. When someone needed to stop for a rest, everyone was supportive, and we all learned to walk together. We were stronger that way. And as I pushed for the air, I prayed that God would give me his breath.
That’s how I have been living life. One day at a time, trying my best to create richness in relationships. People are important, they can carry your load with you at times. We all have different paces in life but the closer you get to one another, the more you find your pace adjusting as you walk the road of life. You can enjoy the view as you go, but looking too far ahead can create anxiety. Focusing on the tasks in front of me, being aware of myself as I do this, seems like a path that I can handle more graciously.
God give me the breath for today, the food for today, the tasks for today. This is all we can do. And we find ourselves eventually in the heavens, surrounded by glorious views of things we never could have seen coming. Standing there with those you have loved through a journey.