Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Climbing Mountains

Voices echoed as we started up the trail. Challenges were issued to each other, as words and friendly taunts quickened our pace. In a few hours we would be at the top of the mountain, standing on the peak. Spirits were high as we anticipated the view from that lofty perch. As we pressed on, the horizon, formed by the rise and fall of lesser peaks, seemed impossibly far away. Below us, stands of evergreens followed streams and river valleys like a green ribbon. Above us, the edges of plump, white clouds, framed by the clear blue sky, appeared distinct, like they too could be climbed.

As we ascended our conversation dwindled, as our hiking team drew hard on the thinning mountain air. Footsteps became labored and pack straps started to dig deeper, as the trail gave way to rocks that now had to be negotiated and scaled. Pausing for rest gave us a chance to drink deeply from our thermoses, the cool water soothing our throats and providing relief.

As we pushed harder, our muscles began to balk at the unusual exertion we placed upon them. They rebelled, but they would succumb to our demands, as the top was in sight. It was a matter of sheer willpower now. Fatigued, cramped muscles had to be reined in. With lungs straining for life-giving oxygen, we bowed our heads in our final approach to the summit. Step by stubborn step we pressed on.

Then ... it was there. We made it! We crested the mountain. With the summit beneath our feet, we inhaled the rarified atmosphere, and took in the vista. There was a picture each of us imagined of what the world would look like from this vantage point, but this was something else altogether ... more beautiful, more amazing, more magnificent than we imagined.

Standing on the summit, the hurt, the pain, even our shaky resolve all gave way to the thrill of accomplishment.

Men, we all climb mountains in our lifetimes. For some these mountains are literal: the Rockies, the Cascades, the Sierra Nevada. For others these mountains -- these obstacles to overcome -- are figurative (but loom no less large): financial stress, tragic loss, health issues, broken relationships and more. Each time we start the climb we will be tested, tempted to give up, determined to find a way to return to the security of base camp.

Men, I suggest you continue your climb. Find the resources to get you up and over the top. Reach out to your brothers; ask them for a helping hand. Talk to those who have been where you are now; let them point out the obstacles and encourage you to keep pushing on.

The view from the top is worth it.

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