by Tracy Reynolds

from Signs of the Times No. 62 - Jul 2016

In the beginning the rolling slopes of green and brown
shine majestically in afternoon sun. Warm and welcoming
arrayed in the splendour of autumn jewelled trees.
A gentle stroll along century worn tracks,
safe with knowledge that many feet have gone before
a myriad of footprints marking out the way.

Then the first unsettling shivers of a change in temperature.
The clarity of path becomes more impressionistic,
gone the imprint of previous pilgrims, their comfort blown away.
Sunlight struggles through cataracts of cloud and mist.
The ruby reds and amber golds of autumn jewels cease to shine
and the first fingers of foreboding brush the mind and heart.

Ahead the mist, a cold damp smear across the skyline.
A whispering of heavy spiders webs across bare hands and faces.
Obliterated now the welcome of an autumn afternoon.
Muted now the colours of autumn warmth,
dulled the dappled sparkles of sun on rocks - all is gone.
Oppression weighs heavy and heads and backs begin to bow

It's harder walking now. Eyes focussed on the feet in front,
arms clasped across the chest to hold in meagre warmth.
The free form music of birds, wind creaking branches, laughter
becomes the rhythmic pace of trusting feet and chattering teeth.
The silent struggles hidden behind determined grimace
whose idea was this? why are we following again? where to?
what does He get from mountaineering anyway?

The comforting human shapes of companions solidify  
into recognisable expression of familiar faces.
The silent single file of determined trudging pauses,
He smiles and they relax, He knows where they are going.
The warmth and comfort of the sun breaks over them,
the monstrous climb shrinks back to steady saunter up a hill.

He stops a moment beneath a rocky outcrop.
An easy climb for the man whose boyhood legs have,
all unknowing, practiced for this moment.
He bids them stay and goes ahead alone.
They settle down to wait, a familiar undertaking.
Heads begin to nod on grassy pillows.

The disorientation of sudden wakefulness intrudes.
Eyes fly open, sleep heavy limbs are slow to move.
Heavy lidded eyes struggle to focus, dilated pupils begin to close.
Sunlight streaming from the Son and a someone else or two?
His smiling face is turned towards them, this Son-light,
this source of life and love reflecting heavens glory

Now common sense prevails, food and shelter
hospitality and welcome to preserve this mountainous epiphany
He laughs and shakes his head, no dusty mausoleum memory,
rich full of life laughter shouts experience! Live!
Lest the preservation of a moment misses the affirmation of a lifetime
This is my Son the beloved, in him I am well pleased.