Crossing time

This time next week, I hope to have reached the mountaintop.

Between here and there is a steep and rocky ridge. Last time I crossed Crib Goch, it was on my hands and knees. My ambition, some quarter of a century later, is to stride across (at least some of) it like a woman, erect and unafraid; but if I crawl again, clinging to the earth and rock the whole way as for my very life, I will not be ashamed.

I realized rather late in the day why this trip has become a source of such anxiety, a needle of nervousness when I prick my plans upon it. The last time I was in that land was for a funeral. My father made the journey to join us not, I think, so much for the sake of the widow as because, in the dying days, an opportunity to share the same air should not be wasted.

The death of my father-in-law has changed the landscape to which we will return, and the journey has become, in its details and diversions, its stops and starts, layovers, inspections, security insecurities – it has become a metaphor for the passage of time, unseen and uncertain, and steeped in our mutual mortality.

My ambition is to stride across it like a woman, erect and unafraid. But if I fall to my knees, clinging to the earth and rock as for my life, I will not be ashamed.

Be to me a rock of refuge (Psalm 71:3)

 

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