The High Road

There is a beautiful Wanderweg (clearly-marked walks through the Swiss countryside, mainly) in Kanton Zug. It sits atop the Zugerberg and contains breathtaking beauty, relaxing pedestrian strolls, a charmingly dilapidated church, fabulous tracks for bikers, and the “Skulpturenweg” for children and adults.

When I lived in Zürich, I took the short train ride (with my beloved SBB) to Zug, and  walked it many times. It was more meditation than sport. I would walk for hours – disappearing in the sound of cowbells and sunshine or rain or foggy mists.

The top of a Swiss mountain, even a “smaller” one like the Zugerberg, can make one pause. There is a literal and figurative perspective when viewing the city below that brings an immediate disconnect from “real life” and places one in the mountain’s uppermost sanctuary.

When looking down upon the city below, I recall feeling compelled to stay high. I wanted to stay at the top because being at the top felt easy and peaceful. Relative to what lingered below, the higher road above felt more who I was. (Do not mistake me, I can do it – work and live below – I just don’t want to.)

The low road is covered with soldiers running around wearing narcissism, greed, neglect, pathological lying, darkness, etc. like medals. It seems almost normal for quelque personnes on the low road to engage in the tearing apart of folks who don’t live like they do. People who place a higher premium on other virtues.

I don’t do that well and I hope my son will choose not to. It’s not a Catholic thing for me, it’s a human thing. I have one life, I don’t want to live it worshiping those gods.

The high road has better views and many things seem easier to “touch” up there – joy, God, clarity, compassion, sunshine. That’s what I want my son to strive for, also. Life can show you true joy when you stay focused on gratitude, generosity, and humility.

There’s one great thing that lives up there I failed to mention. Justice resides on the high road. Even as some on the low road fail to see her or care she is there. Justice always stays where the air is pure and the views are clear.

And, she’s one hell of a companion to have by your side.

Climb every mountain…or not – One year ago, I went to Grand St. Bernard

Today will be a “good luck getting off the couch day.” Last night, InterNations successfully hosted hundreds of people at a gorgeous venue in the middle of Zürich. As usual, I was smiling and semi-suffering at the door. In spite of the chronic back pain, it’s hard to help myself. See, it’s the people that have sucked me in. I really care about a lot of them. When I ask “How was your week?” I’m listening to that answer.

But, this morning, I woke up and felt the effects of my “care and concern.”  Major back pain lighting my back and neck up like a Christmas tree. Whatever. No biggie.

Then iCalendar and Timehop popped onto my computer screen and reminded me what I was doing 12 months ago: “St. Bernard w-” (I took away his initial).

it was one year ago that I went to the Hospice of Grand St. Bernard for the first time.

That kills me more than the back pain. I was climbing a mountain a year ago and today I can barely carry a purse. I won’t be climbing a mountain any time soon, okay. I get that. So, I can cry about it and feel sorry for myself OR I can smile and pay homage to what made the Hospice of Grand St. Bernard weekend truly exceptional.

Duh. I always do the smiling thing. Here goes.

1) I snowshoe’d for the first time and 2) I climbed a mountain over 2400m for the first time.
(BTWthose things happened simultaneously, which was not easy, AND I did it in 2 1/2 hours.)

3) I visited the Valais for the first time.

4) I drank the addictive Hospice GSB tea for the first time.

5) I kept Canonical hours for the first time.

6) I attended Mass IN FRENCH for the first time.

7) I felt truly at peace for the first time in my life (it was an amazing 2 hours).

8) I had a birthday party with plastic utensils on a wooden floor for the first time.

9) I read “Swiss Watching” for the first time.

10) I stopped a man from having a commitment phobic tirade for the first time because…

11) I told him “I love you” for the first time.

12) I literally saw and heard multiple avalanches for the first time.

13) I took a car ride with complete strangers for the first time.

14) I got frostbite for the first time.

There’s something in both of my books. Emily and Daniel are on a mountain climbing when Emily loses her footing and starts to fall. He tells her to stop, plant her feet, stand up, and move forward.

That was real.

15) I learned how to stop myself from being overcome by fear for the first time.

It was an amazing retreat from this life. I’ll happily revisit it a lot today as I am clutching my heating pad and Ibuprofen.

I was winning today, last year. That means there’s hope to win again.