“I’m going to hike the Alpinista way. Want to join me?” Markus, an analyst from Switzerland asked as I approached him standing outside a small village in Spain, next to a small, white, wooden sign upon which was painted a hiker in blue with the term “Alpinista” in red letters painted upon it. We were on the Camino. “Yes” was my reply, before I even asked what that meant!
The Alpinista way, hear therein the word “alpine,” like the ALPS, was off the main road, onto a narrow, unadorned, sometimes hard-to-find path that led through the woods and right out to the cliffs along the ocean. The views were spectacular once we reached the cliff tops. And the way was treacherous. We hiked up, up, up to the peak of a mountain and then back down, down, down to the sea time and time again, on a winding, dirt path. It was narrow, through pastures, gateways, and on rocky shale pathways. After this day, I looked for the small signs with their symbol of the Alpinista way in order to take this path.
That was my fourth day on the Camino. My left calf muscle had turned rock hard on the first day out and wouldn’t stretch out or relax. It pulled and hurt with every step. I didn’t know what to do with it, except, to keep going. On the way we took that day, at one point as I stepped up an especially steep incline, the muscle in my left calf felt as if it popped or ripped, the pain eased at first and then became excruciating. It was with burning steps I limped up hills and down, after this. After a few hours we made our way down, down, down again into the town of Deba.
Our day was not through. Markus cared for me that day. I sat and rested, drank the best-tasting beer ever, and then he said, “Now, we will eat lunch, then get you an ace bandage for your leg, and then we go up the hill. I walk slowly with you.” Indeed, we hiked again four kilometers up another 2000 feet in the hot sun to the place we stayed that evening. It was a killer day. I was wiped out. But felt like I had passed some test!
In the closing remarks of Jesus’ message on how we live in relationship with Him, Jesus is all about contrasts. He contrasts how people choose to follow – which way, what kind of fruit proves and tests relationship, and what kind of foundation. Build on the rock. These are connected to practice. How people practice following Him.
How might you respond if asked:
What kind of fruit ought I see in the life of someone who claims to be a disciple of Jesus?
Or: What might it look like to “do” the Words Jesus said?
Or: How do I know if I am really on that “narrow way”?
The answers might surprise you. How might you respond? How do you choose?