Keep walking

It was Friday, June 13th 1930, when Henri Guillaumet, an experienced French airplane pilot, had to travel from Santiago de Chile to Mendoza. The weather forecast predicted a huge snowstorm for that day. However, he still decided to leave Chile and to cross Los Andes (The Andes).

At one point the snowstorm became very strong and it forced him to change the direction of the flight. He started going south, but even in the south the storm was very strong; so, in the end he had to land near El Diamante Lagoon (The Diamond Lagoon). Since he was a very good pilot, he was able to land safely despite the storm and the runway which, of course, was nonexistent.

He slept in the cockpit waiting for the rescuers. The following day, a plane flew over the area, but they did not see him.  He thought to himself “If I stay here, I will die.”  He decided he must leave. He wrote on one of the wings of his airplane “Je pars vers l’est” (I am headed towards the East) and began walking. He walked one day, and then two days and so on, until June 19th when a shepherd found him exhausted at the edge of a creek.

Later, when he was remembering that experience, he said: “In the snow you lose the instinct of self-preservation. After two or three days of marching the only desire is to sleep. I wanted to sleep also, but I said to myself: my wife believes that I am alive; she believes that I am walking. My friends think I keep fighting. All my loved ones trust in me. So, I made up my mind: I am a traitor if I do not walk.”

We are walking toward the encounter with heaven where we will meet God.  Until we reach heaven, we must walk and we must fight against adversity like this pilot. As Jesus says many times in the Gospel we have to walk toward heaven, but the path to reach heaven is narrow: For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life (Mat 7:14).  This means that it is difficult, it is hard, to reach eternal life.

Because of the difficulties, many times we may have the same desire or temptation as the man lost in the mountains “I wish to stop here and sleep”. When we are tired of walking, it is much easier to stop and sleep than to keep walking. In the spiritual life to say this is to say: “I want to remain with my defects and my imperfections or my sins; I do not want to achieve virtues and reach holiness”.

In those moments of temptation, we must think like Henri Guillaumet: “Jesus believes in me. The saints, my friends who intercede for me, trust in me. People who pray and make sacrifices for me think that I keep fighting for eternal salvation. I am a traitor if I do not continue walking toward eternal life.”

Daily homily


Get new publications direct to your inbox.