We’ve seen many photos of this, just perhaps not from this angle.
From a distance, in an overview, we’ve seen this great pyramid on the plateau of Giza many times. It looks smooth and majestic, and I always want to climb to the very top and look around. But I’d have to start from there, in the photo, at the bottom; and then climb up large stone steps. In the blazing heat. Close up, inch by inch; it would be difficult.
It’s not “how you look at things.” It’s not “just do it with a smile.” It’s not “have fun climbing!” It’s not “things will get easier as time passes.” That’s the long view, the pyramid from a distance.
I’ve always found real participation in life is much more like those individual stones to climb. I love climbing things, but I know that each of those stones can scratch you, cut you, break your fingernails, be a barrier that you have to go around, be hard to get up onto, trick you into a false step so you fall back and lose ground, threaten with collapse onto you, let loose a trickle of gravel that falls into your face, and happily tumble down with you holding on to it! (Do I sound experienced? Ha!)
But still we must climb. The stones let you feel your strength. They might give you a feeling of accomplishment. They might provide a place to rest. They might…might…allow you to reach your goal.
You know what I mean by “stones.” They are things we must deal with in our everyday life. If it doesn’t feel that difficult, then I don’t think you’re climbing. At least not up.
I do many little happy things during the day, taking the long view, seeing the nice pyramid in the distance. We need to do that sometimes. I made these chocolate chip cookies a few days ago.
One of the first “happy” meaningless little pleasures I’ve done since Suzy died. I couldn’t eat many of them. The last time I baked them Suzy was at my side, physically, and mentally in my mind as she always was. Since she has gone, my mind has been alone, without her. From a distance, as an idea in my head, these cookies looked so good, but up close, each one was a reminder that I eat these cookies… so alone.
Today two – two! – friends, who don’t know each other, each told me that they had to or are about to have their pet “put down.” I know how they feel and I know how they will feel as time goes on. It will be one of the hard stones that they have to climb. I can climb it with them if they want me to, and maybe together, we can rest on one of the stones and talk about how a “plate of cookies” can be a sad thing.
My two bereaved friends remind me of the reality of sadness and aloneness.
This is not depression or despair. It’s just the power of the difficulties that we have in this life.
Bernadette Soubirous. Saint. Poor. So poor her family was given an empty jail to live in. Uneducated; so “dumb” she couldn’t learn her catechism with the rest of her friends. Clumsy and ignorant – and saintly – she was ridiculed and disliked by the other nuns in her convent.
She had perspective, though. Each day she embraced the stones she had to climb. She was one of the few people who saw the Virgin Mary, at Lourdes, and afterwards. Eventually she asked if she could have some happiness, a bit of an easier life once in a while. Here is Heaven’s answer:
She would not find happiness in this world, but only in the next.
The next world, where there will be no tall stones to climb. They say she became beautiful at the moment of her death, and her body retains its beauty today. Her face was a testimony to the reality of Heaven and to the perspective obtained by a life lived with God.