Five weeks ago, Judah and I hiked and slept on the Great Wall of China, and the lessons we learned were foundational. This short trip reminded and encouraged us of a few of those lessons. Judah dealt once more with fear, this time of bears, and I wrestled again with feeling expendable. The bears never came, but I needed the voice of my wife and son to get over my pride. Both of them, on separate occasions, considered how we as a family might bless someone outside ourselves. Both of them mentioned our camping neighbors. The day before, they had wondered into our camp. He was from Colorado and she was from Montana and they, along with their little three year-old daughter, Ellie, were planning on staying for several more nights.
"Can we leave a pile of firewood for them?" Judah asked. I looked to Josey and smiled because she had mentioned the same thing a few minutes earlier.
"Of course," I said, "that's a great idea!" So while Josey and I packed up the van, Judah and the girls piled a large stack of wood next to the neighbors fire pit - Eden making sure it was stacked with care and purpose.
Because after a few nights in the beauty of the mountains, the perfect "thank you" blesses others, not ourselves. A lesson I'd have forgotten, if not for the mountains.
My wife was right, the mountains do have a way about them . . . a way larger than any word I can write. Which is probably why we go back. Because, like Whitman wrote about the stars, " . . . When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them . . . How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick, Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself, In the mystical moist night-air, and . . . Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars."
The mountains have a way. And all I can do is stand and look up at them, in perfect silence.
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