“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!'” (Isaiah 52:7)
Hiking a mountain is an incredibly spiritual experience for me. Not only does it open my eyes to the wonder of God’s creation: it also serves as a metaphor of my relationship with God that continues to change my life.
The beginning is often exciting. I jump out of the car with a burst of energy, and I’m all optimism as we start the hike. Every flower, every leaf, every tree is amazing and beautiful, and I am so excited to see where our adventure takes us.
As we go up and up, climbing foot after foot of elevation, I start to flag. My initial energy has long since failed me; I’m starting to need more and more breaks. I’m still thankful to be on the journey, but at what cost? The question often replays in the more negative corners of my mind.
A few times we get a glimpse of a mountainous view, the valley below, a small town. I smile to myself, thankful for a brief respite from the drudgery of going up, up, up.
At one magical moment, we glimpse a deer up ahead and pause to watch its innocent beauty as it nibbles grass by the side of the trail.
Other times, it’s much less magical, as I stumble over roots and rocks and trip into a freezing creek as it meanders underfoot. I scrape a knee, cut my hand, twist my ankle.
My thoughts have made a swift transition from “This is amazing. What an experience!” to “How much longer must I trudge up this stupid hill?”
I keep trying to catch a glimpse of blue sky above us but the mountain simply continues to go up and up. “We will never get up there,” I mutter to myself, all negativity and gloom.
Signs appear and only confound us all the more, pointing in three different directions. We have to consult the map and our common sense to figure out our way.
Once or twice we choose the wrong path, only realizing our mistake after the trail goes downhill and makes it much easier on our weary bodies. Part of me wants to continue on this simple path, with less obstacles trying to block our way, but I know it will only lead us back to where we started. To reach the top, the pinnacle of our efforts, we must stay on the right trail. With dread and irritation, we turn back around to the crossroads and try the next path to find our way again.
My body aches and yet the adrenaline pumps through my veins because I know at any moment we will be at the peak, rewarded by marvelous 360 views.
The mountain, totally unfeeling and oblivious to my physical and mental struggles, continues to throw obstacles in our way. A companion pulls me up an especially large and emotionless boulder that could care less if I happened to fall from it to my death.
Sweat pours down our faces. It seems as though the closer we get to the end, the more difficult the trail becomes. We are grappling on hands and knees over stones that scrape our arms and legs. Branches scratch at our faces and pull at our hair. We hold out hands to pull up the person behind us or to steady one another. We are struggling and fighting to get to that beautiful peak when all of a sudden, it’s before us.
The sign points us straight towards a gorgeous view of the blue-green tree-filled landscape below. It’s all so small now. We can see the road we drove on to get to this monster of a mountain. We can see out so much farther than we could’ve imagined as we stumbled and tripped on the trail below. Though the glimpses we’d seen on the way up were encouraging and beautiful, they hardly compared to the breathtaking view before us.
As we sit and soak in this moment of victory, triumph, and relief, we talk with fond remembrance about the amazing journey it took us to get here. Sharing laughs and stories of our arduous trip up the mountain, no one is grumbling or complaining anymore. All the pain forgotten, we agree that every scrape, every twisted ankle, and every fall on our way up was worth it.