Mountain Tops

As I was uploading Thanksgiving pictures from my camera, I noticed a pattern in my last 6 months of photos. Evidently, I have inadvertently become a mountain climber. (Okay, maybe a mountain walker, but you get the idea.) I have pictures from the top of Mt. Yonah, Skitts Mtn., and Sunset Rock among others. Looking at the record of my climbing/walking expeditions gave me a sense of accomplishment, even though I didn’t know I was a mountain climber. My goal since last year has been to keep moving, pushing myself to take challenges that I could not have done before. I guess, as the photos show, I think walking up steep trails is a challenge that is worth it for the view when you get to the top. It makes sense to me that I like to walk when I have a destination in mind before I start. Similar to my accidental nine mile beach walk to the pier this summer, I just start walking towards something, and keep going until I get there. I am not fast, but I am a goal-oriented person. I have had many long walks that way. When I reach the top, the view is spectacular. I feel as if I am one of those birds that soar on the wind. I guess it is what they call a mountain top experience.
The thing is, mountaintops start off in the valleys. In fact, if it were not for the valleys there would be no mountains. All would be level, smooth and safe…but there would be no view. My fitness mountain started in the valley of Cancerland. My spiritual mountain top started as a caretaker of a brain injured husband. The valley of losing a baby led to the spectacular view of the preciousness of life. The house fire led to contentment. Everyone has their share of valleys. Yet, for every valley, there is a mountain. God uses both in our lives to move us closer to him.
The climb is never easy, but I have come to appreciate it, and the health that it brings to my life. There was a time, not so long ago, I would have driven to the top of the mountain. I would not have taken the time or energy to walk it. Climbing up from the valley wore me out. I wanted to pray myself out of the traumas that make up life, without the hardship of the scramble. Now I see that the journey up is incredibly valuable. In fact, it may just be the main point. The lessons learned on the climbs overlap, because mountains do not stand alone, they come in ranges. Up and down. Some are taller than others. There are times where the climb is slow and deliberate. Others when you are on the top of a mountain taking in the view, when suddenly you are in a free fall back into the valley. The unpredictability is both exhilarating and horrifying. But despite the risks I must walk and not avoid the climb. Real physical mountains, or metaphorical ones does not matter. Intentional or inadvertently does not matter either, there is strength and health in the journey. Out of breath, heart pounding, sweat pouring, muscle straining mountain climbing is a worthwhile endeavor because when you get to the top you see the bigger picture. The small intimate valley, with all it’s up-close-in-your-face issues opens up into a view where you gain perspective as you climb. The obstacles below don’t appear so large anymore when you rise above them.
When I make it to the top, I sit and rest from the climb. I lie down on the rock, because for some reason every mountain I climb has a rock at its peak. (Hmmmm…there may be something to that.) I feel the breeze on my face. I take in the panorama of nature. Deep breaths rejuvenate my soul on the mountaintop. Then I rise to make my way back to the valley. Will I climb Everest? Not likely. I have an appointment with a friend on Stone Mountain soon. I’ll take one mountain at a time.

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