Hills and Valleys

May 23rd, 2019

Mountain Top Experiences to Daily Life

“ ‘I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.’ ” – Isaiah 57:15

 

There is always something about mountains that make me stop and stare at them.  Like every part of my being just has to pause and breathe and just look at them for as long as I can. They inspire so many different feelings inside of me and it doesn’t matter how many times that I see the same mountain or mountain range, I still stop and stare. 

Many of the same reasons I stop and stare, are often similar reasons why we go to the mountains. To experience the awe, wonder, and challenge of being in such rugged terrain that cannot and will not be tamed. There is something inside of each of us that begs to go and attempt what seems impossible. 

This is a part of why wild places are so amazing! They are a reminder to us of our smallness, and that we are not the ones in control, but that God is.  These high places and mountain top experiences are so powerful and so incredible! And we each seek these experiences to grow, learn, and test ourselves against the power that Creation and the Creator provide.

But can a person live on mountain top experiences alone?

 

Let’s take a look at mountain tops. What is there? Snow. Rock. Lichens. Ptarmigon. Pikas. Bugs. Maybe some grass. Truly, there’s not a lot of things that can survive and thrive in this rugged terrain. There’s little to no nutrients or soil and thus, it cannot sustain a wide variety of living things. 

The opposite of these high mountain tops, are the valleys below. Lower in elevation, they are often teeming with life. There is water, nutrient rich soil, a wide variety of vegetation and animals that flourish. We often try to push through these valleys in order to get to the high peaks and places where we can see for miles. But what are we missing when we rush through the valleys?

 

Mountains and Valleys each offer us opportunities to learn more about ourselves and about God.

 

“High Places” have always drawn people to visit, worhsip, and to sacrifice on them. People in the Old Testament worshiped God on the high places (Ex. 19; 1 Sammuel 9). But people also worshiped pagan dieties on high places that God even commanded Israel to destroy these spaces (Deut. 12:2; 2 Kings 18:4). 

It seems pretty apparent that there is something within us, both past and present, that seeks the devine and seeks God on these mountaintops and high places. But as we have explored, there is very little to live on and survival is incredibly hard on the mountain tops. And yet valleys seem dark, and hard to walk through sometimes in our lives. So why do it? Why do we climb or hike to these high places?

René Daumal expresses it well:

     “You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come  down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but that is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know.”

It is not in the climbing, in the summit, the pride or sense of self and acoomplishment that we feel when we climb mountains. All those things are not bad things unto themselves. But it is in taking the lessons learned and the experiences from the action, and bringing them into the everyday, the mundane, and the “valleys” of life.

And actually do what Daumal says that when we return to our day to day,  we no longer will see with our eyes but we will know deep down in our spirit the lessons that God has taught us on the mountain. 

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Laura Albert

Laura Albert

Laura has been full time with SROM since February 2017. In addition to writing, she and her dog Lily enjoy going on adventures and pushing the limits of “the norm” in their daily rhythms. Most recently that includes the building of their own Tiny House on wheels this May. 

To learn more about Laura, click here

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