One interesting feature of life in Austria is to see how people love the mountains. Many of them are part of the Alps and are snow-clad throughout the year. Mountains offer a refreshing perspective on life. One can learn much from climbing mountains, especially now, as one strides forward in the New Year. Being atop a mountain one realises how different the world looks from a height. While bigger objects seem small from a distance, the smaller ones are almost invisible.
Does this perspective hold true for real-life situations as well? If we step away from our problems and view people or situations responsible for our discontent and tensions from a distance, undeniably they appear to be miniscule. The next thing one learns from scaling mountains is to take extra care at every step. A careless step on the mountains, just as in life, won’t just set us back by several metres, but may also land us with serious injuries and problems. Don’t we all have instances we regret, when a casual decision or misstep taken at a certain juncture in our lives led to many problems? Could we therefore, without missing out on fun and frolic, resolve to tread the path of life a little more carefully in the New Year?
People who live in the mountains, apart from being friendly, treat nature with deep respect and care. They are much closer to the creator than most of us who are running around in cities doing our daily chores. Nature itself has much to teach us, a fact underlined by Pope Francis in his Encyclical, Laudato Si, last year. Could we attempt to get closer to nature with greater respect and care in the New Year?
Another wonderful thing to acquire from people living in the mountains is their transparency and lack of pretensions. Would our life in the New Year not be much more authentic if we dropped our masks and appeared, as the Bible says, in the “image of God”, which we were created in? And finally, the higher one climbs the mountains, the fresher and quieter it gets, providing us much-needed moments of silence for deeper self-reflection on the vicissitudes of life. This peace naturally leads us to the path of prayer. And once we return to the plains, we continue to appreciate silence and the temperament for prayer acquired during our climbs.
(Father Dominic Emmanuel, a founder-member of Parliament of Religion, can be contacted at email@example.com)...