Read Matthew 5:3-12.
On Friday 2 October, we completed the 70 Munros challenge atop Schiehallion. Schiehallion lies at the centre of Scotland, and was where the weight of the world was measured in the 'Schiehallion experiment' of 1774.
It was a fitting place to end the 70 Munros challenge, since for 70 years Christian Aid has worked to carry the weight of the world, to lighten the load of those who are most burdened by the weights of inequality, injustice and poverty.
We lingered in glorious sunshine taking in the view of Ben Lawers, where our journey had begun eight months previously, reminding us of just how far we had come. In this 70th anniversary year we have also looked back and taken time to consider just how far we have come as Christian Aid.
We have remembered the end of apartheid in South Africa, land rights being gained for some across the world, the setting up of the fairtrade and trade justice movements, and the cancellation of some third world debt. These are but a few of the summits that have been reached.
To paraphrase Nelson Mandela, we have taken a moment to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds us, to look back on the distance we have come.
But we can only rest a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and we dare not linger long, for our long walk to justice and freedom for all is not ended. There are many mountains to climb.
The mountains of gender justice, climate justice, tax justice and rights to land for all. The mountains of conflict and inequality. The mountains of food insecurity, access to education and sanitation provision, and of the refugee crisis that inspired the long expedition of Christian Aid in the first place.
‘May we always be bothered enough by the injustice and inequality of the world to do something about it.'
Maybe the thought of climbing more mountains sounds tiring. Perhaps some of the lessons learned on the 70 Munros challenge, our own Munro beatitudes as it were, might help sustain us on the journey.
Blessed are those who are bothered, for they and others will survive and thrive.
On each walk, when cold or hungry we had to remind ourselves to stop, to go into our rucksacks, to get out the necessary gloves, hat or food - even if our fatigue meant we felt we couldn't be bothered. 'Be bothered' became a mantra on each expedition.
May we always be bothered enough by the injustice and inequality of the world to do something about it. May we always be bothered to speak with, and amplify the voices of, those living in poverty.
May we always be bothered to do our bit to help everyone journey to abundant life. Our own flourishing may depend on it.
Blessed are those who don’t give up, for the mountain will be there tomorrow.
We learnt to respect the mountains from the first day of the challenge, when on the summit of Beinn Ghlas we made the decision to retreat and return to walk both it and Ben Lawers the following weekend.
We may get discouraged along the way, we may face setbacks and seeming defeats, but the mountain will still be there to return to, to have another go at, perhaps even with extra reserves in tow.
Blessed are those who walk humbly, for they shall overcome.
No mountains were 'conquered' in the 70 Munros challenge. Avoiding avalanche risk on the descent from Bidean nam Bian was just one example of where we learnt to walk humbly and submit to the elements and the terrain. The guidance of 360 Degrees Outdoor and Abernethy mountain leaders led us to safety.
May we all continue to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God, prepared to listen to the guidance of others in the spirit of partnership.
Blessed are those who find it doesn't get easier, for they are just getting faster.
The final Munro walk was as challenging as the first one, when fitness levels were much less than they are now. We learnt on the challenge that the struggle doesn't get easier, you just get faster.
As we continue the journey beyond 70 we may find that the task of overcoming poverty does not seem to be getting any easier, but that may be because we are getting more effective, coming up against more resistance and working towards more positive change.
God of the mountain top
Help us to continue the journey
To keep being bothered
To never give up
To walk humbly and
To bring your kingdom
to the valley below.
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