Rich Evans
St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Mountain Top

I live and worship north of the tunnel, as if that should have some significance here in the Diocese of Bethlehem.  We hear that because Diocesan House is in the “south,”  people in that part of the diocese have gotten special attention or favors we northerners wish we had.  Even if this had been true in the past, shouldn’t we be focused on today and tomorrow?  Aren’t the issues and opportunities we face more important than to remain shackled to old resentments?  Isn’t this part of the reason we are called to this pilgrimage?

Hundreds of feet above the Lehigh tunnel we drive through walk the hiker/pilgrims of the Appalachian Trail.  We zoom through at a mile a minute.  The hikers above us average about two miles an hour.  The trail is over 2,100 miles from Georgia to Maine for those that choose to hike its entire length through 13 states over five to seven months.  Ironically, the midpoint of the Appalachian Trail is only a few miles from “our” tunnel.  Whether they start in Maine or Georgia, hikers rejoice at having reached the halfway point.  It calls for the celebration and an attempt to join the Half Gallon Club by consuming a half gallon of ice cream in one sitting!

I had the great honor of serving on the Board of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy from 2003 to 2005.  I served with fellow directors from Georgia to Maine.  We had such a wide cultural diversity that we could not even agree how to pronounce the name of our organization!  Yet we had no trouble working together for the good of our membership because we all had a passion for hiking and the Appalachian Trail.  Our regional diversity was not a hinderance — it was a strength!

As we journey through our diocesan pilgrimage, I encourage us to think of those hikers up on top of Blue Mountain.  Think of their joys and miseries as they spend months without plumbing or thermostats and instead enjoy gourmet meals of ramen noodles and Snickers bars.  I assure you they they are having the times of their lives!

Why do we spend any time at all dividing ourselves into us and them?  If culturally diverse hikers can bond over their love of hiking, should not we Christians be able to work together in God’s love?  Let us think of that tunnel as something that brings us all together.  The hikers have to crawl over the top of it through a polluted superfund site at Lehigh Gap.  All we have to do is zoom through to meet our brothers and sisters on the other side.



Image Copyright: kamchatka / 123RF Stock Photo