Mt. Hermon has a tradition on Palm Sunday. At six a.m. a few dozen hearty souls meet in the dark to hike up to the top of Mt. Hermon, which it not an actual mountain with glaciers and ski slopes, but rather, the uppermost point on the 400 acres that Mt. Hermon owns.
My friend, Sarah, and I were among the hearty, sleep-deprives souls. We began the trek up the winding paved roads in near total darkness. At each “Y” in the road, Sarah noted aloud the name of the street or a landmark because she remembered the year before when I insisted that I knew the way down and then doubted myself half way down. But that ended well when we emerged at precisely the point we began–last year, that is.
So, Sarah’s awareness coupled with my excellent sense of direction would help us get down the hills this year. At least that was the plan.
We arrived at the top of the hill in time to watch the sunrise. Then, ever cognizant of time, we headed back down. A man and a woman said, “Do you know the way?” and I said, “Yep.”
At the first “Y” in the road, Sarah said, “This way? Or that?” The left led down, the right seemed level. I honestly had no idea, having been utterly distracted by a riveting story that Sarah was telling.
“Um,” I said, “I think it’s down. I’m going this way . . . but you’re welcome to go that way.”
The two people following us decided to continue following us.
So, Sarah and I continued, her talking, me listening, unconcerned about our route until we reached the next “Y” in the road.
It did not look familiar. At all.
“I’m going down,” I said, “But you can go that way if you want. Don’t feel like you have to follow me.”
And we continued on.
At the next “Y” in the road, nothing looked familiar. At all.
However, I knew that if we continued down, all the winding roads would eventually deposit us on the main conference road. I’d wandered up in the hills before, I’d seen maps, I was not the slightest bit worried.
“I’m going this way,” I said, “But feel free to go that. I’m not positive, but I’m going down.”
I heard someone say, “I’m just following the crowd.”
This continued for a few more turns . . . and by then, the crowd following us had increased to ten or fifteen people. At every decision point, I offered a disclaimer and every single time, everyone followed Sarah and me, even though it was obvious by this point that we were far off track–we should have arrived at our original departure point long ago.
And then we saw the lumberyard through a clearing and found that we were right next to the road we sought–only we were on a seemingly impassable ridge and the road was far below.
We all clustered like a group of disoriented bees. I peered over the ridge. Only a teenage boy would be foolish enough to shimmy down the side onto the road below and I am a forty-four year old woman with a tricky back.
Stark terror appeared on the faces of several of the woman who’d been trailing us. “It’s okay,” I said, “I know exactly where we are.” Doubt clouded their faces.
And then a hearty man said, “We can get down.” He forged ahead and found a trail. We followed him down the dirt path, then descended a rickety wooden staircase and found ourselves standing on the road that would intersect with the main conference road.
At that point, Sarah and I hastened our pace and raced away from the angry mob behind us. Their willingness to follow my confident leadership led them a mile or two out of their way and caused them to appear at breakfast coated in sweat and annoyance. The twenty minute hike up the hills turned into a forty-five minute hike down the hill.
At no point in time were we lost. We merely took a different route down the hill. It’s hardly my fault that my confident leadership outweighed my directional abilities, nor is it my fault that so many people are so willing to follow someone who clearly has no idea what she is doing.
And if anyone asks, it wasn’t me. I have no idea what you’re talking about. Mountain? Lost? You must have the wrong Melodee.