Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Mountain Top Experience

Last week, I had a mountain top experience.

 My son, Wes and I visited my brother, Steve in Tennessee, who took us on a Sunday afternoon drive on back roads in the Smokey Mountains. I’ve never experienced so many ups, downs, twists and turns in my entire life.

 After marveling at a cascading waterfall, climbing a few rocks, and picnicking by a beautiful mountain stream, Steve said, “Now, let me show you something cool!”

 We ventured upon an old logging road, and were soon far beyond the tourists. I’m glad Steve was driving and knew where he was going, because I was lost within the first twenty minutes.

 We veered off the logging road and up a craggy dirt path, filled with potholes and rocks. Someone should make a commercial about the durability of Steve’s minivan: “Built Dodge Tough!”

 The journey was treacherous. I gasped, held my breath and cringed on several occasions. Steve just laughed and kept on trucking up the road.

 When we finally reached the summit, after a long bouncing, I finally understood. The spectacular panorama made it all worthwhile!

We could see for miles. Four states were visible from our observation point, though it was difficult to tell where Tennessee ended and North Carolina began. Wes and I found the highest knoll on the mountaintop and stood on it triumphantly. Steve beamed while his wife, Sandy, took pictures.

 Then, after a few minutes of soaking in the splendor of creation, we hopped back in the minivan, and headed back down the hill.

 Reflecting later, I realized something important: You can’t reach a mountain top without a challenging climb. You’ll never have a mountaintop experience if you’re not willing to take the uphill journey. Mountains always include valleys. After the struggle, the view is spectacular.

 I also recalled the words of my favorite English poet, William Blake, who said, “Great things happen when men and mountains meet.”

 My trip up the mountain gave me a fresh perspective of Moses who scaled Sinai to hear from his Creator, and then climbed Nebo, where God finally brought him home. There is a close connection between mountain tops and heaven.

In Wisconsin, a few days later, however, driving back roads home, I realized there’s a close connection between Hayward and heaven too. Any place where one experiences creation, nature, beauty, mountain tops, valleys, challenges, an upward journey, and a fresh perspective is a great place to develop faith and discover God.

 Some places are sacred spaces. The Smokey Mountains certainly fit in that category. And, of course, so does Hayward, Wisconsin.

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