7:30 a.m. Saturday morning, and streams of sunlight pour into my cottage, beckoning me outside. This beckoning – it is both literal and figurative. It’s been a long, dark and cold winter – in my heart, in my spirit and on Mother Earth. But on this morning, signs of spring tease, if only to remind me that winter is but one season of our life and always, without exception, precedes new life.
With that thought in mind, I shall go to the mountain today. Which one is not so important. Any mountain will do, and there are several to choose from. And when I’ve finished climbing today’s mountain, another mountain, another challege, awaits. It is one of the great privileges of living where I do. Yes, I shall go to the mountain – a place that always pushes, challenges, and invigorates me. A place where after the struggle to the summit, we are blessed with the reward of accomplishment, peace and a bigger perspective.
Isn’t that how life works, too? We struggle, we climb, we journey day by day, often through the rough and rocky patches. At times we get lost or lose our footing. Sometimes we get hurt. Still, we persevere. We forge ahead. We fight the altitude with our attitude. Some will quit at the first sign of fatigue. Some will come so close to their summit, where the pain just before reaching the peak is most severe, and resign themselves to giving up when they were just a few yards from the top. Others of us will push on through the rough terrain, the dark forests, and the uphill climbs. We will push on from a place of Faith. Faith in knowlege that our lives are so much greater than our daily struggles. Faith in the knowledge that the beauty of wisdom, peace and perspective come only after the struggle itself. Faith in the knowledge that sometimes the struggle itself is a source of joy.
One of the best parts of climbing the mountain are the people I meet along the way – others, perhaps struggling the same as I, on their own journey to their personal summit. Perhaps we meet some at the base camp – at the beginning of our journeys – charting our courses and assembling the supplies we will need along the way. Perhaps we meet others on our ascension as others begin to retreat back home. Some we will hike, rest and climb with for a short while, others perhaps for the entire journey, though we can never know for sure.
There are those who are better prepared than others of us, and sometimes, the degree to which we are prepared physically, mentally and spiritually, will shape and influence the outcome and our ability to reach the top. We may need to stop and rest along the way, but then we must climb on. And when we reach the summit, we can soak in the beauty of perspective which often eludes us along the journey itself, but for mere glimpes along the way that beckon us to keep going.
As a side note, I consider it no accident that my own journey these last couple of years has now afforded me an opportunity to live in one of the loveliest places I know of in the US; a close-knit, but broad-minded community, anchored by the college, where one of the central gathering holes is the local coffee house, appropriately named ‘Summit Coffee’, so named by the owner as I’ve been told, because he, too, believes in the magic and beauty of the mountain.