Clarence’s Clarion Call – Endurance

     by Clarence Rempel, WDC Conference Minister

 It seemed like a good idea. Why not climb one more 14er as a capstone to a wonderful
vacation week in Colorado? The sunrise on Mt. Massive was spectacular as Amanda and
I drove to the trailhead near Leadville, Colorado. If I was successful, this would be No.
16 of the 54 peaks in Colorado above 14,000 feet. That far exceeded my goal of climbing
ten 14ers in my lifetime.

I embarked from the North Half Moon Trailhead at 7:30 AM accompanied by the
friendly chatter of other adventurers. The trail would be short, only 3.4 miles, and steep
with an ascent of over 4000 feet. After a pleasing slope to tree line, the trail headed
up a 70 degree slope in big rocky steps and never ending switchbacks. It was hard! The
supply of oxygen was rapidly decreasing. Could I still do this?

With the encouragement of other hikers, I reached the peak of 14,421 feet at 12:30 PM
to a spectacular 30 mile 360 degree vista of Rocky Mountain peaks. Yes!

Going down would be brutal on my knees, so I turned off on the Main Massive Trail, a
much more gradual slope as far as I could see. After hiking for an hour, pleased with
choosing this easy going slope, a hiker caught up with me and in our casual conversation
just mentioned that this trail was 7.25 miles. What? Several hours later I was passed by
the last couple off the mountain who confirmed the length of the trail. I still had miles
and hours to go. And then my left thigh began cramping. That hadn’t happened before. I
stopped, drank more water, massaged the muscle, prayed, and it released.

Endurance is the word that popped into my mind. The theme of this hike is
ENDURANCE. One step at a time.

A lot of life is like that. We have little idea where we are or how long it might take till
we reach the trailhead and home. But we can see a bit of the trail, and we take the next
step, and the next, and the next.

Life and leadership in the Mennonite church seems something like that for me now.
I can’t see where the trail is going or how long it will be. Just take the next step. The
next step for Western District Conference is the current Discernment Task Force Survey
seeking responses from the members of WDC on matters of human sexuality, Biblical
authority, and church polity. Our Reference Council gathering on November 15, when
we hear a full report of the survey and respond in face-to-face conversation will be
another marker on the trail. How many miles to go? Oxygen is getting thin. Take the
next step.

I am praying Paul’s prayer for the church at Colosse for WDC and Mennonite Church
USA. “We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the
wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of
the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the
knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so
that you may have great endurance and patience” (Colossians 1:9-11).

When not sure which way to go at a trail juncture, I was helped by some seasoned
campers who got out their topographical map, gave me water, and blessed me with
trail mix and told me I had only three miles to go. Endurance! One step after the other!
Blisters were starting to bite. Trailhead! 6:00 PM.