I’m not sure if it’s because I’m getting older, or some of today’s music artists have poor diction, but many times I can’t understand the lyrics of particular songs. In some cases that’s a gift, but in this case it was a source of family comedy. I once heard a song on the radio whose lyrics I just couldn’t make out. What I was hearing just didn’t make sense so it made me focus more on this particular song each time it came on because what I was actually hearing was so absurd. I couldn’t get the lyrics out of my mind and each time it came on, I was hoping someone else was in the car with me so that I could understand what was being sung. Of course I could have gone online but soon forgot to do so (another affliction of older age!). One day my daughter was visiting and was in the car when the song came on, I belted out what I thought were the lyrics — “I don’t want to go to Maine … A – Achoo.” My daughter laughed hysterically, and said that the actual lyrics of the song were “ I don’t want to go to bed mad at you.” She said other things too, but none that I’ll report here (I think I heard the word “dork” in there somewhere).

I’m writing this article on a cruise ship in Iceland on vacation. I mention this because, as I was walking through the ship yesterday, a singer in the centrum was singing a song that I had heard many times before, but the lyrics and the message were so clear this time that I couldn’t ignore them. There was a message in there somewhere and I was hearing it. The song is “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus. Okay stop laughing. You hear a lot of old songs sung on cruise ships! Yes, the lyrics came across clear as a bell! Each word struck me, especially in light of the recent tragedies in the world in the last few weeks. The shootings in Uvalde and Buffalo have been on my mind! And today as I sit here in my cabin, I heard about a small two-year-old that lost his two parents in the Chicago shooting!!

At times like these we wonder why? We struggle to understand. We search for meaning. Do we turn to God?

In the song “The Climb” we hear, “Every step I’m taking, every move I make feels lost with no direction. My faith is shaking.” I think that this captures how we may feel sometimes, especially in light of the unexplainable tragedies we encounter with a possible anthem for faithful people when she sings, “The struggles I’m facing, the chances I’m taking, sometimes might knock me down.

“But no, I’m not breaking!” and “And I, I got to be strong. Just keep pushing on. ’Cause there’s always gonna be another mountain. I’m always gonna wanna make it move. Always gonna be a uphill battle. Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose. Ain’t about how fast I get there. Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side. It’s the climb.”

And therein lies the message. It’s all what life is. It’s the climb. As Christian people we were never promised a flat easy walk-through life. We know that life has its ups and downs. Life is full of challenges and mountains that won’t move sometimes. Terrible things happen in this world. But, as Christian people, we have the One to turn to. The One who lived this very life. The One who faced the mountains, the uphill battles, the struggles of being human. The One who invites us each and every day, when we come to a blocked path or a mountain we can’t see the way around, that we just climb it.

Jesus gave us the very path to climb. Yup, sometimes it may be a steep path. Other times it may be rocky. Sometimes the path may be obscured so as to block our way. But He promised to always be there standing by our side through it all. And He left us the Church to help guide us along the way. It is with this very faith that we get through it all. 

The climb takes us where we are ultimately meant to go. You can’t get to the top unless you make the climb. And with the support of each other and with a strong faith in our God, we will get there. Step-by-step. Inch-by-inch. No turning back. No shortcuts. No quitting. “Keep on moving, keep climbing. Keep the faith, baby. It’s all about, it’s all about the climb.”

Anchor columnist Deacon Frank Lucca is assigned to St. Mary’s Parish in Dartmouth, and campus minister at UMass Dartmouth. He is married to his wife of nearly 44 years, Kristine, and the father of two daughters, and the grandfather of five (with #6 on the way).