I stood at the bottom of the hill, looking upward. I checked behind me, but all that could be seen was that which immediately affected where I stood. The shadow of the building reached out to touch the shadow of the tree which reached the shadow of the cars, which joined with my own shadow. Everything surrounding me prohibited me from being able to see any further forward or backward of where I stood. The voices were also loud at the bottom of the hill. I could hear laughing and joking and all sorts of other human interactions that were taking place; coffee cups clanging together in rhythm with spoons and forks on plates creating a whisking sound. The animals were contributing to all the noise as I stood looking up from the bottom of the hill. I wondered inside my head and heart, what was the purpose of this trip if I were to just stand here and be distracted by the quieter noises of the country? Where I am normally bombarded with cars swishing by the windows of my office, the growl of a far off motorcycle, the groan of airplanes struggling with gravity, the pleasant audible aroma of children laughing, singing and playing, the shrill whistle of the sirens wailing from atop ambulances or fire trucks or police vehicles, the sounds of helicopter blades slicing the still night air. What about the noise I choose to engage with for relaxation, be it radio, television, or just the sound of my own voice… these all kept me from climbing the hill that I stood staring up this morning.
I stood there and wondered, why should I climb this hill? The answer came back; why should you just stand here? I could nor answer either question so I started up. I kept my eyes on the path in front of me and saw the signs that marked the journey of others up this hill; the raccoons, the deer, was that a mountain lion, or a coyote, the gophers and even the occasional bird that was stalking a worm. We were all looking for something as we tread through the dirt that lay all over the side of that hill. Were we staliking the same thing?
I noticed the change as I reached the halfway mark. Things were less, and more. The noise was less, the warmth more. The building was less, the incline was more. The inside was less, the outside was more. I was less, the cross was more. From the bottom looking up, the cross seemed smallish, like a toy, or something; yet, as I grew to the halfway point, I noticed that the cross stood taller, more thick, reached higher…
I caught my breath and began upward again. Still looking at the markings on the ground, reaching for my breath that was escaping me, struggling against the backward pull of the bottom of the hill. I thought of that childrens rhyme about Jack and Jill, I did not want to break my crown.
I reached the top, my crown was punding, my lungs were burning and my calves were bellowing. As I approached the wooden cross, I noticed that those things threatened to blot out the thing that I had climbed for. I took a deep slow breath and then just as slowly exhaled the repeated that again and again, until my breathing began to slow. Finally, I could see it clearly.
It was just two pieces of rough wood, bolted about 3/4ths of the way to the top with bolts. It stood at the top of one ridge which led to overlook the top of another, and another and another… It seemed like I could see for miles. I looked back down this hill I just climbed and I noticed that the shadow were different, smaller. The cars, the building, the voices and the noises all smaller, distant, somehow now undistracting; in its place the silence was able to stand to its full height.
The cross was louder though. The cross outshouted the silence in the cool morning air, standing on top of that hill in the rays of the rising sun, empty yet full of meaning. I had climbed to the top of this hill, I had followed the path that someone else had walked previously to get to this cross. And now, standing here I felt like I could see in every direction. Forward, backward, and side to side; it was all much clearer. I could see that the hill from the top was not so large, so ominous or foreboding. I could also see that although there were other hills to come, they were not so daunting either. I realized that I had climbed the one hill around that mattered, the one hill that brought all the other parts of the journey into context. I had climbed the hill of the cross, and the differencr was breathtaking. Now when my friends asked to go up the hill, I could tell them my story of my journey and the things that I learned. I could tell them that it was easier thsan it looked and it was also freeing and strengthening. But most of all, I would tell them that someone else climbed before us both, and put up on the top a marker. A marker that showed the way to go home.
The greatest mystery is not why God loved us. The greatest mystery is that Christ became one of us to die for us.
1 Timothy 3:16Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.
- johnny


Zack said…
Great story Johnny! God bless you and your work in San Jose.
Be blessed!
Anonymous said…
Thanks so much for your comment on my recent writings...I really appreciate them. I realized that I am too often in a place where people just believe what I say and I don't even have to back it up (AIMer, AIM Field, working with AIM, working with the church here now). My work has most always revolved around those who are already committed Christians. I definitely need to always be prepared to give a reason for the hope.

Thanks again.


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