Raising his eyes toward his disciples Jesus said:
Blessed are you who are poor,
for the Kingdom of God is yours.
Blessed are you who are now hungry,
for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who are now weeping,
for you will laugh.
Blessed are you when people hate you,
and when they exclude and insult you,
and denounce your name as evil
on account of the Son of Man. -Luke 6:20-22
Counting each step on our way to base camp which was still hours away, I found myself in the middle of a single file line of fourteen people slowly following the person in front of me. Twelve of us had spent the last two days driving from Chicago, an elevation of 600 feet above sea level to Vail Colorado, an elevation of 8,000 feet. Upon arriving we had two more days to get used to breathing at the higher elevation, while also doing team-building exercises like scaling a 10-foot wall without the help of ropes and learning to rely on each other. On this day we headed up another thousand feet to what would become our base camp for the next five days—truly a life-changing hike. It was the early 1980’s and we were out to “Meet the Wilderness” yes, in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, but also that wilderness that lies in each one of us when we isolate.
Here I am sharing this with you some forty years later and still learning how important it is not to isolate. I’m a slow learner, and I’m still not sure I get it—my wealth does not come from my bank account, my pension, my financial bottom line…life is not all due to my hard work, my toeing the line, my getting up early each morning, my praying to God, my doing chores…studying all about poverty, ignorance and crime, and racking up a bunch of letters behind my name, does not give me the secret formula that would do away with the world’s evils.
I’m learning, that only by me sharing my experience like I’m doing with the reflection, getting involved with my neighbors, helping tend the gardens…by my learning to live on less, less energy, less of the earth’s resources will there be enough for all of God’s (not Dan’s) creation. Yes, I am loved and can be part of that creation, but only if I join the we, meaning all of God’s creation.
Thank you, God, for sending us Jesus to remind us of our real wealth—one another and mother earth. Help me live those beatitudes recorded in today’s gospel selection, those paths up to a higher elevation. Yes, the going does get tough, but You are with us.
Dan O’Donnell is a Passionist Partner and a longtime friend of the Passionists. He lives in Chicago.