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Saturday, October 25, 2014

We are climbing Jacob’s ladder;
we are climbing Jacob’s ladder;
we are climbing Jacob’s ladder,
for the time is drawing nigh.

Sisters, don’t grow weary;
brothers, don’t grow weary.

Every round goes higher, higher;
every round goes higher, higher;
every round goes higher, higher;
for the time is drawing nigh.

“Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning”
(tune: Keep Your Lamps)
African American spiritual
from Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal

I have, on a couple of occasions, done a bike ride around Lake Tahoe. It’s beautiful and it’s challenging. You’re in the mountains, and there is climbing involved. There is one climb in particular that comes to mind, an eight-mile climb that begins about eighty miles into the ride. It comes when you’ve been riding between four and five hours, so you’re tired. It tops out at about 7,000 feet, so there’s a bit of an oxygen issue. It’s a long grind, and it’s hard, and it’s hot, and you can never really see the top until you’re there.

When you’re on one of these long climbs and you can’t see the top, it’s really discouraging. You’re never going very fast, and it feels like you’ll never get there. The trick, I’ve learned, is not to think about the top, but to imagine yourself as being in a box just about the size of your bike. You get in the box and turn the pedals. You don’t think about the top. You just stay in the box and turn the pedals. And sometimes, just as you think that you could just step off the bike and it would all stop, you’ll meet someone and they’ll say “You’re looking great” and that keeps you going for a few more turns. Or you’ll be the one saying it, and simply saying it makes you feel stronger. And so it goes. Every round, higher, higher.

Bike or no we are, all of us, always climbing. This thing about being over the hill is a myth. Sometimes the hill is really steep. Often, the last part of the hill is the steepest. But you never know if you’re near the end or in the middle, so your job is always the same. Turn the pedals. And if you meet someone else grinding up that same stretch of road in their little box of pain, encourage them, because we are all climbing.

Lord, we are climbing. Step by step, round by round. Help us to encourage each other as we go along, so that we can weather the weariness. Amen.

Written by Rob Koon, Coordinator of Fine Arts

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