Ok, so I'm just putting this photo in my blog today because I like it. Who doesn't like a nice picture of a sunset? To the right is one of the 'lazy hills' of Ranong. So called by me because they don't really aspire to much height or grandeur. When I first came to Ranong I thought they might be good for the odd bush walk but the locals stubbed out that desire with talk of snakes, leeches and goodness knows what else. Fortunately the sky sometimes puts on a good display, overshadowing the lazy hills and the mildew stained buildings.
All of this reminds me of a quote from Pope Francis, who I will see this week (from a distance) at a mass in Bangkok. While speaking in Poland about three years ago, he urged young people to get off the sofa and do something good in the world. He spoke of 'A sofa that makes us feel comfortable, calm, safe. A sofa that promises us hours of comfort so we can escape to the world of videotapes and spend all kinds of time in front of a computer screen. A sofa that keeps us safe from any kind of pain and fear.'
He went on to say 'Jesus is the Lord of risk, he is the Lord of the eternal 'more'. He is not the Lord of comfort, security and ease.' We need to 'take the path of the 'craziness' of our God, who teaches us to encounter him in the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the sick, the friend in trouble, the prisoner, the refugee and the migrant, and our neighbours who feel abandoned.' 'This means being courageous, this means being free!'
It was a great speech and certainly resonated with me. We all have moments where we just want comfort and easiness in life. But behind the promising exterior of the comfortable sofa lies the psychological version of the snakes and leeches of the lazy Ranong hills. We simply never find out what we really are capable in life. We loose our ability to even desire anything more than easiness. Our life goes by without us ever truly helping another person or moving beyond ourselves to bring love and care to those who really need it from us.
My trip to Chin State a few weeks ago was far from comfortable at times. The seven hour bus trip up winding semi-paved mountain roads (to cover only 70km) and subsequent migraine, the awkwardness of being a new place where most people didn't speak my language, meeting new people for the first time, giving a workshop for teacher training to a group of teachers I'd never met before, enduring the 22 hour bus trip back to Yangon along more winding roads with toilet stops that involved the side of the mountain or someone's backyard dunny.... (NZ word for outside toilet).
But despite all of this I wouldn't have missed it for the world. Something happens to your spirit up in the mountains and it's certainly related to the journey you had to make to get up there in the first place. Many of the significant events in the Bible happen when one of the main characters goes up a mountain. The Ten Commandments, the teaching of the Beatitudes, the Transfiguration of Jesus in front of three of his disciples.
Don't settle for the lazy hills or the sofa in your life. Talk to Jesus - what are the mountains he wants you to climb? It won't be a comfortable journey but by goodness the view from the top will be worth it.