Every now and again, I have the chance to spend a few days in the mountain air. Recently, I had this opportunity. My senses are incredibly alive when I am in this space, and upon leaving, I couldn’t help but sit down and write a letter to my friend, the mountains.
What is your secret? How are you able to blow your majestic air on me and bring relief to my weary bones? It’s true! As I inhale your damp, smoky air, it’s as if I am restored from my life of fast food smells and cars on the go. Your curvy roads both delight and scare me. Your immensity leaves me fearing you; I’m in awe. Your winding ways help me to slow down and dwell on your beauty. From a distance, you are grandiose and a bit intimidating, yet as I draw near, it’s as if you’ve been waiting for me. You invite me to explore.
I spy your rocky, wet paths. I am an adventurer ready to take on one of your many trails. Many others have gone before me on this path, yet it is new to me. I am unsure what I will find; a bit of fear rises. The unknown stretches me; but then, you immediately gift my family. One by one, we find walking sticks, old branches repurposed to aid us on our journey. One step at a time, I walk the uphill climb. I notice the ordinary leaves of green that have burst forth with fluorescence from recent rain. I see the oddity and surprise of nature in a rock sprouting a tree. I hear the steady hum of water from a river flowing beside me. My children dip their fingers in your water, taking seriously their hunt for rocks. A simple leaf floating in the air catches my attention; the magic of a spider web reminds me of God’s creativity.
Surrounded by hickory trees and unseen animals, I sense again, your secrecy. Your time on earth is long before mine. The large boulders and oaks have a story to tell. I look high and my heart asks, “When were you formed? How long have you been here? Tell me about people of long ago.” Maybe, they too, have questions for me. “What is your name? Why do you visit today? Will you treat us gently?” I continue on. At the end of the path, a treasure awaits. A mighty waterfall tucked away in the folds of you. The rushing sound and natural beauty drowns out the noise of the world. I wonder, “How many other treasures are within you?” Traveling the path helps me befriend the unknown. As I climb down your side, joy arises. My former fear has become a friend.
Mountains, I’m not sure where the term “mountain top experience” came from. I can’t help but wonder if it came from the story of Christ climbing the mountain with his closest friends, Peter, James and John (Matthew 17)? Maybe it began as a simple walk up a mountain that led to a treasure far beyond Peter, James and John’s imagination. For when they reached the top, Christ transfigured and amazingly shone as bright as the sun. Were Jesus’ closest companions overwhelmed with awe? Did the appearance of Elijah and Moses elate their senses and bring them joy? Seems to be true since Peter wanted to build some shelters and hang out for a while. But, as they were getting comfortable in their surroundings, the unknown came in the shape of a bright, descending cloud from which the voice of God spoke. Terrified by the unexpected, they took cover. But, Jesus touched them and said, “Do not be afraid.” Are mountain top experiences not times of overwhelming joy, but rather, times that change us in some way? Times when awe, amazement, reverence, gratitude and unease all roll into one, challenging our perspective and shifting our center? Are they times when we are reminded God is with us and we are not to be afraid? I can see how hanging out with you leads me straight towards a mountaintop experience.
Whether the rain dibble dops or the sun shines, your crisp air fills my lungs anew. I want to thank you, mountains. Thank you for welcoming me. Thank you being a source that challenges me and brings me renewal. It’s no wonder I feel close to God when I am with you. So many of your very characteristics are those of God: from your majestic stature to the mystery of your folds. But, my favorite is your clean air all around infused with the reminder, “Do not be afraid. For I am with you.”
With love, Ally
We all have places in our life that refresh us. And, we have circumstances that challenge us. Where do you go that combines both challenge and renewal? Consider writing a letter to that place.
With A Child:
What challenges you (an activity, a school subject, a friendship)? Remind the child that God is with them through their struggles as well as their joys.
Slow down, grab a camera, and create, over here!