Bernadette Petrie encourages us to find our own personal summit and when we get there – enjoy the resting place.

am a fairly regular climber of North Berwick Law. A few years ago, I found myself chuckling as I started my climb. A new sign had popped up at the start of the trail. It said ‘Summit Path’ with an arrow pointing in the correct direction, clearly there, to guide newbies in the right direction. I chuckled because the Law is less than 200 metres to the top, and it takes 15 to 20 minutes to get to the summit. This should not be underestimated, mind, I puff and pant every time I climb it, and by the end of this particular climb, I would come to think of ‘the summit’ somewhat differently.

When I think of other bigger hills and Munros I have scaled, I have to admit to being a very grumpy climber; “Are we there yet? This is hard! Why, why?”. But, back then, I did not think – I have chosen this life, and these hills are my powerful teachers. I think about being that young woman often, so seeing this sign made me giggle. Because, boy-oh-boy, I used to make things really hard for myself.

After climbing for about ten minutes, I became lost in thought; it happens every time. When I looked up and saw I was off track, it took me a few seconds to find a path again and see the summit once more. Before this point, I rested for a few seconds here and there, but with a new focus, I made a final non-stop push to the top – to ‘the summit’. Once there, I realised the message. When you get to the actual top of a climb, that is the resting place without question. From there, you get to see an expanded view of your world, and there is no more climbing to do. You just have to be. You cannot physically climb any higher. This is exactly like our spiritual journey. If we ignore the resting place and are constantly climbing, we are never actually at peace with who we are, where we are, and that place of striving – we are missing the point.

Each time I climb the Law, I let more baggage go. When I get to the top, I see something new, and so each time, I have a new level of understanding about my life. Each time I climb, I’m a different version of myself; there is no need for the Law to get bigger – the expansion happens on the inside. When I get to the top, there is no more climbing to be done that day, on that hill of doubt. I need to focus on the resting place and reconnect with my current life – see it through this new lens.

I encourage you to climb your hill of doubt and only climb it when you want to. I encourage you to take breaks along the way, but when you get to the place that feels like a for-now resting place – rest! Rest, savour the life you see below, appreciate all it is showing you, and in that moment of acceptance and appreciation, you will discover that you have expanded just perfectly. You will be climbing this hill of doubt again and again for evermore, but only because you want to. Remembering that will make all the difference. 

Remember, it’s not about the destination; it’s about the experiences along the way that we need to embrace and treasure, and in the process, resist the temptation to strive endlessly for a dizzy spiritual height that would detach us from our humanity. From who we are on this earth, right here, right now. 

You can buy Bernadette’s book and card deck online:
Also available from: NØRDEN 82 High St, North Berwick.