This is a classic image of the life-long spiritual journey of the soul to God. Several saints, such as St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross, reflected upon this and used it as a means of spiritual direction and instruction. Having spent some time in recent days climbing around the western foothills of Carter Mountain up the South Fork, it gave me a whole new appreciation of the difficulties entailed in such an instruction.
First, it seems significant to recall the destination; the house of God, namely, God Himself. This alone is a great instruction of what (Who) the human heart and soul longs for most. Our heart yearns for God! Advent calls us to get in tune with this longing, and to make progress in the journey of the soul to God.
Second, though the ascent of this “mountain” is arduous, it is a journey worth making. Difficult as it may be, we must remember that God Himself is calling us to be with Him, and He will provide all that we need to make the journey. God is always the Initiator; we are always the responder in this life-giving relationship. God’s initiative and grace are what matter most, but it does require our effort, struggle (cross), love, and cooperation.
Though there will be difficulties along the path of this journey, there are far more beauties to behold! Despite all our modern day conveniences to tackle such a mountain climb, such as outdoor gear and apparel, four-wheel drive and all terrain vehicles, this journey of the soul to God is a spiritual journey. This ascent to God requires spiritual discipline and perseverance…such is the make-up of great love.
One final thought. Even though everyone must make this ascent to God alone, it is also done within the community of the Church. We each are called to holiness individually, but each individual making this journey does so in communion with a great many others! So, we can imagine the face of this mountain swarming with the support of the community of believers, and the Communion of Saints to assist us when the going gets tough, and to enjoy the beauties with us along the way.
Advent calls us to make this mountain climb each day, together, in the midst of our day-to-day lives. So, think of the many walks of life and individuals; teachers, oil rig workers, ranchers, those who care for the family and home, office workers, healthcare providers, students, farmers, public saftey and public servants, politicians, clergy, unemployed, homeless and immigrants. We all are called climb the mountain of the Lord…together.
Finally, besides the great many we make this journey with, there is One Who makes the journey with us, Whom we dare not forget or leave behind. This One knows the Way, for He is the Way; He is Jesus. The One Who knows best the path that leads the human person to God is the One Who joins our humanity with the Divine.