This January, I went on my first snowshoeing trip with a few religious sisters, fellow discerners, and vocations director Father Rodney Nootebos.

To tell you the truth, I was not looking forward to climbing Dog Mountain (near the Mount Seymour Ski Resort). First of all, I have never been the athletic type. I have always been drawn towards the arts, and English. Secondly, the idea of willingly going outside and experiencing the wilderness was foreign. I only started hiking more last year as a social event with the Franciscan Sisters.

However, something did spark my interest in doing the hike. The sisters told me that they had a priest celebrate Mass on the snow last year.

How cool is that?! Literally.

I wanted to experience what it was like to participate in Mass on the snow. So, even though I was reluctant, I said yes to snowshoeing.

Due to the fact that it was my first time snowshoeing, I was not properly prepared. I wore a jacket that was too thick for the weather, and jeans that were not appropriate for the hike. Looking back, it is almost hilarious that I, a notorious planner, didn’t plan for this beforehand.

The hike, in itself, was not bad. However, I did need to take a few rest breaks on the way up. It frustrated me because I did not want to be that person who would slow the group down. But, as one of the sisters reminded me, if I tried to catch up to the group, I would get sick. She kept reminding me to drink water and take the rest that I needed.

Young women ascend Dog Mountain in snowshoes Jan. 12. (Vocations Vancouver photo)

I was reminded that I did not need to be on the same pace as everyone else. I had to learn that though we were all on the same path, it doesn’t mean that we are all going to get there at the same time.

Honestly, I was so blessed to have my friends Angela and Sister Mary Sabina who kept encouraging me up and down the mountain. It helped me as I was constantly reminded I am not alone on this path.

Once we reached the top, I felt a huge sigh of relief, and peace. The view was beautiful. I was breathless. After an hour and a half of pain and suffering, I was so joyous to see that it was worth it after all.

I sat down on the rocks, silently admiring the view. It felt like all the noise in my head finally went away. I was able to admire God’s creation in peace. Honestly, it was probably one of the best moments in my week: simply being still on top of a mountain praising God.

Up next was the best part of the whole day: Mass on top of a mountain. 

Because I was distracted, sitting down on the rocks, I almost didn’t notice that my group already started setting up for Mass. As I re-joined my group, I noticed the make-shift altar. This small structure made me smile so much. Our altar was simply a stack of flat backpacks with a white tablecloth on top. It was so humble, and so simple.

Father Rodney Nootebos prepares for Mass on a makeshift with help from Franciscan Sister John Mary Sullivan. (Emi Namoro photo)

I knew at that moment that Jesus was smiling down at us. He was with us, on top of that mountain. I couldn’t explain it, but I honestly felt so overwhelmed by it all. I was overwhelmed at how Christ was present in that simple moment during Mass on top of that mountain. He was right there. 

I felt tears run down my face as I realized the intensity of the intimacy of the Mass. Jesus was right in front me. He longed for me. I, in turn, wanted to give him my all. My sweet, dear Jesus wanted me.

Afterward, I felt a resounding peace in my heart. I no longer felt restless or tired; instead, I was full with the knowledge and affirmation that I am deeply loved.

This hike was a beautiful way to start 2019. I realized that on this mountain of life, we are never meant to journey alone. I learned no matter how difficult or strenuous the climb may seem, the view on top is always worth every step.

And, I learned it is not enough to reach the top by yourself; bring as many people as you can with you.

This “Climb of Life” is worth it. Journeying with Christ towards heaven is worth it. Will you climb this “Mountain of Life” alongside me?

Emi Namoro is a 21-year-old woman discerning religious life. This article first appeared on her blog: Reprinted with permission.

Want to read more about vocations and vocational discernment? You might like this article about Deacon Felix Min's journey to ordination, this story about Sister Cecilia's misconceptions of cloistered life, or the latest news on the changing landscape of seminary studies in Vancouver.

Young women, religious sisters, and a priest participate in Mass in the snow. (Vocations Vancouver photo)