-Rev Melissa Fain-
I was sitting on the mountain, about ready to begin climbing again. when it happened. True, I was sitting on the edge. I should have stayed back. Edges are dangerous, but I wanted to survey how far I'd come. I wasn't the kid anyone thought would amount to anything. I was surely not the one who could seek out, and obtain the proper training. I was a mess. A child who was socially feral. Yet, here I was. I was a trailblazer, anointed to lead groups on God's mountain.
Then a group member came. "Have you rested enough?" he asked.
"Oh, I'm ready to get back! I'm ready to really..." That's as far as I got, because with both hands he shoved.
I fell. So hard I fell. It hurt.
With a smile on his face, he yelled, "From hearing your story, you'll be back up here soon enough!" Then he was gone.
I tried to do anything, even sit up. I was truly broken. I could hear the breaks. I could see the breaks. I was oozing brokenness. I cried. I yowled. It was the only action I had. A broken woman at the bottom of a majestic mountain.
Then she picked me up.
She had been pushed too, and she too had been broken. She stayed near the base because she wanted to be the one to offer first aid to people like me. She didn't heal me. First aid is never about healing. She set my breaks, and provided essential ointment. The most important words came from her mouth, "You are not alone."
I'd like to say those words were simply a comfort. True, they were like a soft and warm blanket wrapped around me, but they were something else too. You know that plastic thread that sometimes comes loose? Those things are so annoying. They itch you until you pull out the scissors and cut them off. That blanket had one of those. Part of me wanted to be alone. Not because being alone made me special or unique. Being alone made my experience an aberration, an outlier. Her words told me this was epidemic.
Sitting on the dusty ground, wrapped in a blanket, I took in my situation with new eyes. I looked up. New rivers of grief began to spill down my face, as I looked at my previously worn trail. I saw the place I tripped, but quickly got back up. I saw the place where I made it over the big boulder. I saw it all. Blood. Sweat. Tears. All that work wiped away in one tragic push.
Wiping my face clear, I got up and went back, so I could look at the mountain as a whole. My plan was to find a new path, a new way up. What I saw broke my heart. On a path I played on in my youth, I could see my friends pushing someone else off the the mountain. Then I saw the big picture. Bodies were flying off the mountain. Some were being pushed, and others were shoved like me. Still others were being knifed first. The mountain I had first looked upon with such desire was transforming into a twisted scene of carnage.
I searched for a Cave of Knowledge. Surely I'd learn some crucial piece to this bloody puzzle. I remembered the mountain had some amazing caves. All the knowledge was helpful towards the climbing experience. There was a zeal to learning that information. I ripped through those pages, soaking in whatever I could. Excited to learn about pretty much anything related to the mountain. Now I was on a different mission. Finding a cave, I also found someone from my party. She had made her way down to help in whatever way she could. She came with access to the history of that specific path.
Their history told it all. I read a history of trail blazers. Stories of celebration and accomplishment. Then something happened. Half the group went to blaze their own trail. To those left, it felt like deception. For so long they had blazed the trail together. This new group took the trailblazer with them. In an attempt to recover what they lost, they brought on a new trailblazer. That's when the story became interesting. Without fail, every trailblazer they brought on wanted to begin climbing, or come to terms with the path the other group had blazed. Each time, when they rallied the group, the group would push them off.
By the time they brought me on as a trailblazer, the other group's trail had long grown over. Nary a sign they had even existed, but their impact on those who were left remained.
I looked up at the mountain again with even newer eyes. There were those who had been pushed who were cautiously climbing back up. I could see them avoiding the edge, turning around when the groups began to look wary. Hardly any group was actually moving. Sure, the trailblazers were trained to blaze trails, but no one was doing it past the base. It was too dangerous. The only ones who tried were so new. Without realizing what I was doing, I fearfully put my hand out to these new trailblazers. They couldn't hear if I cried out to them, but I feared for them none-the-less.
I said goodbye to my former party member. She had chosen to leave the party that pushed me, and join another trail up the mountain.
I didn't head for the mountain at all. It still looked warped and menacing. The more I looked at it it, the more damage I saw. Trailblazers pushing party members. Party members pushing party members. I saw rangers going between the trails. Instead of helping the piles of broken people at the base, they were telling other trails there was nothing to see. They were hiding what was so obvious when one was off the mountain.
Then there were the broken. True, there were the ones who cautiously began to climb again. In their caution, they were missing out on the adventure and possibility, because they had to constantly look for pushers. That was only a small group. There were so many more fleeing for the wilderness. Carefully, I made my way there. I was too broken to go climbing, and I wanted to see what others were saying away from the mountain.
The noise was deafening. Everyone was speaking, so essentially almost nothing could be heard. There were megaphones though. They spoke up above the mass. Their story was angry. In their pain, they wanted to rip the mountain down. At first these speeches scared me. True, I could no longer see the mountain the way I had, but I knew it's importance. Then I realized it was all bark and no bite. They knew what they wanted, but they didn't have solutions or plans of action. They were essentially stealing the only voice these broken people had, to yell in anger about nothing.
My heart wept.
I drew close to some. They had been blinded by the hot sun. So many around them, and yet their cries were the same, "I'm so broken. I'm so alone."
I yelled back, "You are not alone! You are not alone, and we can fix this!" I needed one of those megaphones, because I was not loud enough!
No one with a megaphone wanted to pass theirs over, and I couldn't be heard in the mass. Therefore, I went further out. I left the others and made my home in the desert. "You are not alone," became my mantra.
I knew I couldn't be heard out in the middle of nothing. No one there to hear, but I was patient. "You are not alone!" Then someone came over, and then another. Somehow, across the desert, they heard the mantra. "I am not alone?" they'd ask.
"You are not alone," I'd reply.
"We are not alone," became the new mantra.
Now here we are: A sacred remnant from a broken mountain. We provide the critical spiritual care after the First Aid is done. Some stay and help. Some take the healing and head back up the mountain. (I notice they tend to enjoy the views.) Some do both. I am the trailblazer that hasn't climbed in 6 1/2 years, yet I'm somehow still blazing trails.
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