We’re suffering because of the pride and arrogance he took in his own selfish interest.
It was August, and my buddy Frank and I had just started our guided tour across the arctic circle. Our tour guide, Uki, had traveled all over this wintery area. He knows the land, its wildlife and the weather conditions. Uki was kind enough to give us a discount off the usual price for this two week travel. The whole tour would include wildlife survival, such as ice fishing, and opening yourself up to God through peaceful meditation and prayer. Our guide was very good-natured when we met him and would be up until the end. Little did I know that Frank would not consider the good qualities that he had.
The beginning ride was amazing travelling at a steady speed while the arctic wind brushed across my face. The spoor of the arctic huskies were scattered across the ground behind us. “A little cold, don’t you think,” Frank complained as we were coming to a stop. I knew he wasn’t as enthusiastic about this trip because he knew we wouldn’t be sleeping in our comfortable homes back in Alberta. “We’re creatures of comfort,” I thought to myself. There are people in the world today suffering in way worse conditions who are forced to undergo hardship and pain. I wish he would consider that thought.
I met Frank at a cancer facility back in Edmonton, Alberta. He was in stage three lung cancer and I had just beaten my melanoma. I always considered the cancer a blessing. It allowed me to take into consideration how precious life is. I prayed everyday asking God to give me the strength to fight the teeming disease, and I offered up my pain uniting it with the cross of Jesus. When I had just received my good news one day I noticed Frank in tears sitting in the corner of a waiting room. Knowing Frank now you would never have expected him to ever have such feelings of sadness and that of being alone. I wasn’t going to show pride after I escaped my mental pain. I decided it would be best to go and cheer up the poor fellow and tell him about my experience. After we got talking for a while I mentioned God and how present he was in my battle. “ I don’t believe in God. Never have, never will,” Frank said almost abruptly. I changed the subject and from that moment on I knew I had a role to play in this man’s life.
We started hanging out and talking after that. I was the one who usually offered to visit. After being with him for a while he started noticing how God played a huge role in my life. He was discerning whether to become Christian, but still wanting to please his own desires. He always had to have things go his way during the time we spent together, but I didn’t care at the time.
Uki had just started the fire for the night and had put a drill in the ice so we could fish. You could tell by the look on Frank’s face that he was getting impatient and annoyed by how long it would take to catch our meal. Uki gave me the rod and was teaching me how to ice fish. The tour guide told me he was going out to use the bathroom just half a kilometer away over the hilltop. I had caught a fish and reeled it in placing the creature in a bucket of cold water. As I stared at the dull coloured fish I thought about how far Frank was from the spiritual connection he needed in life with the creator. The little animal looked like Frank in the sense that he didn’t want to be where he was.
I heard a loud cry coming in the direction of Uki. Frank insisted that we stay here and not run into the possible danger, but I knew that Uki needed our help. I ran over the top of the hill, trudging through the snow, and saw a wolf chewing on the leg of our severely wounded tour guide. Blood surrounded the ice around him. I yelled and swung my arms back and forth as I moved towards the hungry predator. To my surprise the animal scurried away towards the open polar region. The wounds were gruesome and the pain in his face was dreadful. I asked Frank to come help me and he ran as fast as he could. We carried him over to the fire and started treating him with the limited first aid supplies we had. Then we began to pray.
He was treated, but had passed out due to the sight of blood in front of him. I didn’t know what to do at that point. It had been half a day since he was attacked and he was barely able to talk because of the deep wound in his neck. “We should end his suffering,” Frank said breaking the silence. Shocked by what he said I cautiously explained to him how ending his suffering by killing him is a mortal sin, that of being murder. “Killing him would be no different than killing a person with cancer. They both have a chance of living.” He didn’t agree, and he told me that we should just leave him here if that’s how I felt. He was waiting for an answer from me as to whether I would agree to his lukewarm decision. This was not right. I could feel the natural law inside me insisting that I do what is morally right. What is mercy? Mercy is the highest form of love, as quoted by John Paul II. Does mercy refer to the destruction of a man’s body so that his soul may go where is earthly actions took him. Or, is mercy a second chance for the purpose of love. That an individual may achieve what he needs to obtain love. I pondered this thought before I directly answered Frank with a strict “no. Uki will survive this and we will start our travel back in a few days once he regains more strength.” Frank turned around and never said another word for the rest of the night.
The next morning I slowly opened my eyes and could see a lark not so far in the distance. After yawning I pulled myself up into a crouch position and noticed that the sleigh, the huskies and Frank were nowhere in site. Before I witnessed this tragedy I knew two things. One, that my friend had suffered from some kind of paranoia, and two, that he did not live by a morally good code. I didn’t want to believe it before, but now the answer was clear.
A bottle of poison was sitting where the sleigh used to be. Out in the open. I was never going to resort to that, after all taking the easy way out was just a sign of pride. If the bottle of poison wasn’t there I would have thought that Frank was going to get help and do something out of generosity for our tour guide. That wasn’t the case. He took so much pride in his own comfort that his soul is likely crying because of the misery it will soon face if he doesn’t change his ways. He won’t change his perception on the way things need to be. I thought he was becoming the person he was destined to be, but after this mutiny I don’t know if he’ll ever fulfill that fate.
Why do bad things happen to good people? I sat watching Uki and contemplated that thought. He had done nothing, and I had done nothing. Frank took one look at our injured leader and judge him based on the appearance. Uki whispered something that I could barely here. “Love is not even loved anymore,” he exclaimed. He was right! Love died for us on the cross and Frank had to go and cross that cross. However, justice is in God’s hands and that is all the comfort I desired at the moment.
There was not enough food and supplies that would sustain us for a week. A can of rosemary ham was left along with the scraps from our previous meals and a fishing rod. I didn’t know how to fillet a fish. This week was going to be a long one, but I told my tour guide that I would suffer with him. I rationed the food out so that we would have half a can a day. I hope that by the end of the week I will have learnt how to fish.
It had been three days and the temptations were growing. I wanted to eat two cans a day, and on the fourth day I lost my will to fight. Opening the can like a savage I tore into the food eating as much as I could. I saved the scraps for my injured companion and then felt the feeling of shame. “He can’t even move and I’m pursuing my own desires. This is unjust and unfair.” I decided for the next day I would only eat fish if I mastered the art of catching sea creatures.
The hole in the ice was still there. I took the rod and casted the line down into the dark, dreary pit. After waiting for an hour I lost my patience and declared that I would lay the rod down behind a rock and take a quick nap. Just before I was about to doze off I heard the ferocious howl of a wolf. I bumped the fishing pole and the rod sunk to the bottom of the pit. My hope began to turn into despair. My perception on life was slowly disintegrating away. Gazing at the bottle of poison I thought about ending it all. I crawled my way over to the bottle and viciously snatched the flask, opening it with a firm twist. I had misjudged my true qualities I thought that I carried. I fixed my eyes on my suffering servant. You never saw him complain or give up. He was always in such good spirits. Uki seemed to trust completely in me and on my role in helping him get back on his feet. After tightening the cap on the bottle I walked over to the hole in the ice and let the bottle slip right out of my hands into the black depths.
We’re suffering because of the pride and arrogance he took in his own self interest. It had been a week since the abandonment. There was no more food and the hunger became too much to bare. The weakness I felt was increasing by the hour. I decided, though exhausted, I would travel back the way we came and find some help. It was the last sign of hope. The flesh is weak, but the spirit is willing. I pulled myself up and began to trek through the frozen ice crystals. Step by step my physical strength was diminishing. I am the cure for his condition. If I give up on him, he is denied his right to life. His life relies on the discipline and strength I put before myself.
Two days had passed and the starvation was decreasing my ability to move at a steady pace. I wasn’t going to give up. A huge blizzard was blowing in the opposite direction, screaming like that of someone in excruciating pain.With a glance upwards my face became instantly numb. I felt as stiff as my injured companion looked. I fell to my knees and began to pray for the strength and fortitude to persevere. At that very moment I recalled the passage from Corinthians in the new testament. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy or boast. It rejoices with the truth. It hopes all things, believes all things, and endures all things.” I took those last three words and used them as energy for my soul. All day I plowed through the snow. By the end I could not move an longer. Every step caused a burning pain to my legs. Why must there be pain, if I don’t embrace pride? This question contains only one answer. Love! We suffer for others because of the suffering the most perfect human being did for us. He was innocent, Uki was innocent. Suffering develops character by displaying our weaknesses so we can be strengthened.
I woke up after a quick nap and I got to my knees. Suddenly, a wolf came out of the pitch black surroundings. It stared at me directly in the eyes. The look of crave in the killers face frightened me. Giving the animal no sense of fear I stood up all alone and stared back at the him. The animal wandered off, slowly but confident. Soon after falling to my stomach I noticed a dim light in the distance. It got brighter by the second. Hope was not lost. This is the sign of hope.