We thought about bailing.
The weather in Southeast until very recently has been horrible. We had wicked rain and winds for a million days (continued prayers for friends in Haines who’ve suffered flooding and landslides). It was not backpacking weather to say the least, but I rented the cabin months ago and we needed an adventure. Nothing prepares you for Advent like an adventure.
The first third was fantastic, even in the dark.
The second third was challenging, but my daughter pronounced it perfect hiking weather (40 degrees and a light mist is ideal).
The last third reminded me of childbirth.
Pitch dark, a foot of slush, and uphill made this last section pretty painful. At one point, I slipped into muck up to my knee and while trying to drag that leg out, I lost my other foot in the muck. It crossed my mind that I probably could collapse forward and weather the rest of the night comfortably. Then, I contemplated crawling the rest of the way to the cabin. Finally, I laughed and hauled myself up and kept going.
There is something important that happens in the brain in that moment.
I wanted someone to save me, I wanted to quit, but ultimately there were no other choices other than to keeping dragging myself up. I’d love to say there is an inspirational quote in there, but I sang The Gambler and swore the rest of the way wondering why we do this.
We finally all made it (almost an hour longer than it normally takes). We reviewed as a family our lowest moments on the way up and our coping skills. Then, the kids curled up in their sleeping bags and took turns reading “Metamorphosis” in different accents while I made dinner.
Kafka’s existential masterpiece and famous scene, “One morning, as Gregor Samsa was waking up from anxious dreams, he discovered that in his bed he had been changed into a monstrous bug…” sounds very different when read by a slap happy kid trying to do a Scottish brogue.
We giggled throughout the evening. There’s something about shared suffering and conquest that bonds a family together. I’m not going to call it fun, but I’m not convinced life is all about having fun. The goal of life isn’t to come out unscathed, but to have good stories and meaningful relationships – to learn to love.
I’m glad we didn’t bail, but I’m also glad we stayed home the next night for pizza and a movie.
• The Rev. Tari Stage-Harvey is pastor at Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church. “Living and Growing” is a weekly column written by different authors and submitted by local clergy and spiritual leaders.