Rocky Mountain National Park 8-2013Since I live in Colorado within sight of the Rocky Mountains, I know a little about climbing mountains. Especially enough to know there are two extremely different types of hikes.

Last fall, my youngest son and I took a hike in Rocky Mountain National Park near Estes Park. I carried a small top anti theft backpack for our light jackets, water bottles, a few snacks, and our cameras. While we covered three miles roundtrip to see several scenic lakes, the trail was fairly level and clearly marked. The only hazards were the eight (yes, eight) elk we encountered along the path.

On the other extreme is Mount Everest, the mountain that sparked the sermon series that ignited my writing journey. Those who attempt Everest have spent months or even years preparing for the treacherous footing, extreme weather and lack of oxygen by hiring experienced guides and acquiring expensive gear. Conquering this type of mountain requires staging equipment at different camps, slowly acclimating to the altitude, and despite the best preparations, may still cost everything.

Regardless of which mountain you attempt to climb, there are common lessons to be found in being prepared with food and water, traveling with someone, safety procedures, and having a clear map or guide. Life’s journeys also require similar preparation and companionship but they aren’t as clearly marked on a map.

Honestly, I thought my writing journey would be like my hike near Estes Park. Simply write enough words, revise, submit to a publisher or two, and then enjoy the panoramic view while feeling on top of the world. I was so naïve! Almost ten years later, this journey has turned out to be more like scaling Everest.

On the other hand, when my daughter was diagnosed with Cornelia de Lange Syndrome (CdLS), I felt like I was facing Everest. Words like developmental delays, mental retardation, autistic behavior, and gastro-esophageal reflux left me gasping for oxygen and facing icy cliffs of endless appointments with therapists and various specialists. But my seventeen year journey parenting a special needs child has turned out more like Estes — a few steep inclines and then a level meandering before the next rise in elevation.

What have I learned from climbing the mountain? Prepare for the journey like it is Everest … and pray for Estes while putting one foot in front of the other. Because without the effort, I will never enjoy the view.

What about you? Have you faced any mountains? Have they been more like Everest or Estes? Why? Any advice for other mountain climbers?

Climb The Mountain
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