The view from the top is usually better. You’re able to see further and your perception is totally different. At the top you can see all around. You can see the end of the journey coming up in the distance. You feel the sun on your face, the wind in your hair. You remember the climb but it doesn’t really matter anymore, now that you’ve made it. The only thing that matters is the strength you gained, the endurance, the patience.
You forget how looming the mountain looked when you first began. Its hard to remember what it felt like to have the shadows cast upon your face as you tried to see past the trees in your way. Every step was second guessed, unsteady and unsure. Did the maker of the mountain even hear your calling?
It was in those moments when you made the wrong move and began to fall to certain death and somehow you were caught by a mesh of perfectly places vines and branches that you knew, he was there. There was no mistaking it, you were not alone on this mountain. So you got back up and continued to climb, though it seemed impossible to reach the top. You weren’t even sure he wanted you to climb or if you were even on the right mountain but you just kept climbing.
But how could you possibly have known that the best part of the climb was in the learning, in the struggling, in the unsure footsteps where you were only a breath away from his grace catching you.
I guess at the top I’m looking back in fondness, wondering if its still okay to fall? Am I beyond falling into grace? Must I stay perfectly still so I don’t fall?
I sit on this rock and I think, how presumptuous and down right ignorant of me to assume I am in fact at the top! Those far beyond my climbing years have looked on me with a smile and said, “I don’t claim to have arrived!” Will I look back on these years with wrinkled eyes at how funny it was that I thought I had arrived?
Its only the pride in me that says, “Yes, look at me. I know the way up. I’ll call to you from up here and you can follow my voice!” I watch as the young climbers sweat and dig in to the earth with their hands. They’re bleeding and tired and they look back at the ground, not sure if what’s at the top is even worth it.
They beckon me to come down and help them up but I stand calling from a far, assuring them that they’ll make it if they just don’t give up. I know they can do this. I hear their cries for help and I ignore them.
I argue with myself all day long, should I go down and get them or just wait here? Will they be strong enough to climb the rest of the way if I carry them? Is it better for them to fight their way up alone and scared like I did or should I just go down and climb next to them, showing them where to put their hands and feet?
I’d have to leave this nice place of safety and quiet peace to get down in the dirt and rocks with them. Its just then, in the moment of that very thought that I feel the sun has shifted in its place and has cast a long shadow across my chest.
Its a tree I hadn’t realized was there and up past the tree I see a trail leading up beyond where I’m resting. This trail leads across a rickety bridge to another mountain, which is much higher. Its so high that its top is shrouded in clouds. Only those brave enough to venture that far can discover what lies up there.
That can only mean on thing. Its safe to fall. If I haven’t made it yet, he will be there to catch me as he always has with vines and branches or perhaps with the very hands of those I’ve refused to help along the way.
Now wouldn’t that be something.
I take a deep breath and decide that whatever is up ahead will only be a shallow victory, emptied of the joy I could have had if I go alone. Whose eyes will reflect mine in wonder and awe as we make it together and see what he had in store for us all along?
Maybe if I got there alone he would ask me where the others were? Where were the ones he sent to help me along? And I would say, help ME along? I thought you sent them for me to help them along? Maybe he would shake his head no and show me that if I had only went back to help them, they would have spotted an easier path.But since I had withheld my hand, he withheld his and watched me struggle across the rickety bridge that was never strong enough to hold me.
I would look back on that day, the day that I fell and remember how alone I felt. It had seemed like destiny that I cross that bridge but it had been doomed to fail. I would look up from the bottom then and see a hidden highway a few steps from where I had first stopped to rest. This highway goes back down the mountain, across the valley and then leads to a tunnel going straight through the belly of the next 6 mountains! They’re all connected like conjoined twins and as as you travel on this highway it’s gradually elevating as it goes along. By the time you come out of the last mountain, you’re standing at the top of Everest!
Its with these thoughts that I reach into the earth and swing my legs down to the rocks below, to go down and help my friends that are still calling to me, thankful that I was given the grace and wisdom I so desperately needed!
When I reached my friend, she was barely hanging on. I hadn’t realized how dangerous her situation was! She was so close to falling, but I couldn’t have seen it from all the way up at my resting place! Oh, God, would she have fallen to her death had I kept on going with out her?
I reached down for her hand. Its so slippery from sweat and blood, I don’t know if I have the strength to pull her up. She’s so tired from holding on, waiting for me to come. She screams at me, what took you so long?! I’m going to die because you waited too long!
I know I can’t do it, I can’t pull her up. So I do the only thing I know to do. I close my eyes and jump, knowing he will be there to catch me. I don’t jump down but out as far as I can into the wind, right into his arms.
For a moment she thinks I’m a goner and shes doomed but then she hears his voice calling from behind her. “Look, I’ve caught her and I’ll catch you too.” I look at my friend and I say, “I’m so sorry I didn’t come sooner. I thought I was supposed to pull you up and I knew that I couldn’t do it. I knew I wasn’t strong enough. But now I know I was never supposed to pull you up… I was just supposed to show you that you could fall. That falling on this mountain isn’t like falling on all the other mountains you’ve been on. This mountain is surrounded by him. He’ll gently catch us and place us back on our feet. You can let go now!”
I sit and wait now, resting in his arms while he speaks with her alone. Its between her and him now. I hope she comes to rest with me here. I hope she forgives me for everything before. I hope she comes with me to help the others too, because they need us to show them too. So we can all travel the road together, the road that leads to the top of Everest.