WORTH THE WALK:
With 412 registered attendees, plus leaders, staff and other visitors, somewhere in the neighborhood of 450 men participated in the weekend. Some couldn't stay through Sunday morning, and others slept in, but I'd estimate around 300 crowded onto the stone benches and folding chairs to watch the sun rise, sing songs of praise, break bread and sip from the cup.
It was enough of a walk and a good enough climb to nurture contemplation on the way to church. I left my room early, swung by the cafeteria for coffee, then set out with time to spare. As I crossed the gorge on the high metal bridge it was still pitch dark (picture taken later that day).
Then, during the steady climb up the one-lane road, features of the landscape started to emerge and I thought about the invitational character of each dawn, gently calling me into another day that means something significant in my journey as a child of God.
Consequently, and by the time I arrived at the niche in the cliffs where a huge wooden cross speaks hope into a spectacular vista, my spirit was virtually humming in anticipation.
But I was amazed at the choking traffic jam of vehicles crawling up the hill to the parking area adjacent to the sanctuary! Their progress was slower than a casual walk, and the noxious overload of exhaust fumes threatened to spoil the fresh morning air. The parking area quickly filled, vehicles piled up both sides of the road, and some simply wedged themselves between the trees and shrubs.
I understand that some of the older or infirm need motorized assistance. But the conference center golf carts and a handful of vans could have shuttled with ease. However, the majority of the riders skipped the walk because they have - essentially - forgotten the point of a sanctuary cut into the hillside that takes a little effort to access.
Less that half of those in attendance made the climb on foot.
I talked with one man, older and not in the best of physical shape, who had struggled up the hill. "I want the complete experience," he said. "It costs me something to be here - and I wouldn't have it any other way."
CONVENIENCE MISSES THE POINT:
It's easy to slip out of the habit of sacrificial living. Note that I didn't limit the concept to "sacrificial giving." I believe that sacrificial giving is a natural component of sacrificial living. Sacrificial living means adding an element of consecration to the day-by-day details that define us.
It's a concept that is just now sinking in to the groundwater of my spirit. Thank you, God, for teaching me - every new day.