All You Need is a Hill

"All you need is a hill."


I don’t know why it stayed, that little phrase. It sort of haunts me.  When I’m running (yep, that’s right, I run now…a little…I caved!), or when anything scary or squirmy or unpleasant comes along.

It was something Kim said as she led the creative fitness retreat where 25 female friends found ourselves sprinting and jumping and carrying comrades up two flights of deck steps in our arms.

She said, “Just about anyone can get skinny, but if you really want to change your shape, you need a hill, or some way to alter the intensity of your workout.”

Apparently, you can’t just run the same familiar, flattish mile through the hood day after day and grow really fit and strong??  (Though it's a start!)

If we want to change our shape, she said…if we want to be shaped…we’re gonna need a hill.


Define “hill.”



I spoke to a woman this week who survived 15 years of spousal abuse, followed by the very near death of her newborn.

My friend just lost his father unexpectedly early.

My sister is allergic to just about everything except meat, veggies and fruit and aches and swells if she gets the wrong thing in her food.

Our Compassion children feel the actual ache of real, ongoing hunger and live in shanties and catch diseases through their bare feet.

These are pretty monstrous hills, I’d say.  And those who climb them with their eyes on the prize will be shaped into something of greater strength, wisdom and grace.

Me?  At this point and for the past several years, my hills have looked pretty much exactly like…well…gifts.


What We've Been Given


They ARE gifts.  Things have been entrusted to my care and nurture which require much time, effort and courage.  The weight of responsibility often terrifies me, and admittedly - sadly - I sometimes long to escape the expectations or needs of others.  To walk away from the everyday realities I’ve been called to.

One small part of this is that it has taken years and years for me to be able to play and sing on a stage and not want to throw up or pass out, so I feared "success" (more opportunity) as much as I feared failure.  Even the compulsion to create, or to share what we create, can at times seem a burden.

These are the gentle inclines I have been given and must lean into.  I can’t run from them or try to travel around them.  I must not judge them too great or too small for me.  These are the inclines I have been given.  

And you have yours.

They are the climbs that require faith and endurance and start us quaking and leave us sweaty and out of breath.  Improved.  Invigorated.  Stronger and braver.  Grateful.  Ecstatic.  Bone-tired.  Confident.  Dependent.

It’s a lovely song, but honestly…one cannot climb every mountain.  You can only climb yours, and climb them you must.

When we meet a hill, let’s face it: there will be no mountaintop experiences until we have sweated and cried our way up the incline.

So, I guess what I'm saying is: Cheers to getting in shape!