There’s this stretch of mountainside road, a tunnel actually, that connects Switzerland and Italy.
It’s the Great St. Bernard Tunnel (I know! How cute is that name?) and goes through the Swiss Alps and pops you out on the Italian side. Two lanes, one in each direction, with a very sketchy guard rail on one side that approaches the tunnel and solid mountain on the other.
I was living in Geneva, Switzerland playing volleyball and every now and again, we would get a couple of days off. Being twenty-something and wanting to explore the world, I used that time to do just that – explore. Depending on how much time we had, it could be Paris by train for an overnight, Annecy for a day trip and groceries, Lucerne or Lausanne to visit other Americans in Switzerland playing or Milan for shopping and all the pizza.
The drive to Milan was maybe four hours from Geneva by car, but you had to go through the Great St. Bernard Tunnel to get there. My Mazda 121 was fine for city driving, but whenever it snowed, this Texas girl white knuckled that steering wheel and hoped and prayed my little car would deliver me and my passengers safely wherever I was going.
Driving on a slick road, through a tunnel with Alp on one side and bottom of Alp on the other side was no easy feat for this out-of-towner.
But, we made it – there and back – twice (in the snow and slush) and Milan is beautiful.
“For most of its 5,798-metre (6,341 yd) length the tunnel runs in a straight line, but incorporating a gentle slope. The northern end is 1,918 m (6,293 ft) above sea level while the southern end is only 1,875 m (6,152 ft) above sea level. At both ends, the approach road to the tunnel is covered by a gallery / avalanche shelter in order to minimize the risk of access to the tunnel being temporarily blocked during bad weather.” – Wikipedia.com
Life can seem a lot like that journey through the Alps some days. It might be a personal crisis, a loss, a sudden illness or a season of growth that can put us on that narrow path in life turning a simple ten minute drive through the tunnel into a storehouse of broken down cars and frayed nerves; and while our desired destination might be a beautiful sight to see, the tunnel can often feel lonely, scary and with no end in sight.
But that’s the thing, if we are going to arrive safely to our destination, we need to keep our eyes on the road. We have to put one foot in front of the other or white knuckle the steering wheel and trust our destination is just outside those tunnel walls. Once you have been through enough tunnels, you start to realize when you keep moving, you always come out the other side.
Getting stuck somewhere in the middle or clinging to the sketchy guard rail upon approach might feel safe for the moment, but intuitively most of us know this – the only way out is through.
I love this verse, Matthew 7:13, 14.
““Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.“
I spent a lot of years on the wide path and it’s full of people, fun, adventure and excitement. But when I decided to travel the narrow path almost twenty years ago, it required me to make some changes and one of those changes was realizing when you choose the narrow path, there are fewer and fewer travelers on that road with you. Fewer people willing to make sacrifices for growth or to exercise self-control in order to build character.
The path might be narrow and the travelers few and far between, but this path is filled with life. Like good, rich, meaningful life – and just because there aren’t as many people along for the ride, does not mean it is lonely.
Yeah, some days I find myself white-knuckling the steering wheel and clinging to the guard rail – but I know if I can hang on, the tunnel opens up and the destination I’ve been moving toward is finally before me.
Priscilla Tallman is a freelance writer in Phoenix, AZ. She has an undergraduate degree in Psychology and graduate degree in Clinical Psychology. She has written for FloVolleyball, Volleyball Magazine, The Art of Coaching Volleyball, Sweat RX, Gorgo Fitness Magazine, CrossFit Fury and the CrossFit Games. She is married with two children and in a former life played collegiate and professional volleyball. She once lived in Geneva, Switzerland where she ate too much bread and chocolate, wasted her money of watches and clocks and wore really bad clothes. She currently coaches high school volleyball and hopes to pass on her love for the sport to the next generation of amazing athletes.