By Bill Webb
A few weeks ago, during a few days of vacation time in the foothills of the Rockies, my family took a driving trip to the summit of a well-known peak. The whole trip, including lookout points and a stop to make sure our car's brake pads weren't too hot, took only a few hours.
As the driver, my job was to keep my eyes on the narrow sometimes-paved, sometimes-graded road and the curves. My view of the surrounding vistas was limited to times when the car was parked. You miss a lot when you drive up and down mountains. Avid hikers will tell you that.
Admittedly, I've not done much mountain hiking. But I am reminded of an experience on another continent when I was a college student 36 years ago. I believe the name of the little town in Switzerland was Arth. The town sat on a lake at the edge of the Alps. A few fellow students and I decided to make our way up the mountain there, a hike mostly through gently sloping pastureland, quaint farmhouses and stops along the way.
We had begun early, but it was mid-afternoon before we saw anything but the side of that mountain in the summer heat. Steady perspiration had set in. After a while, even the cows were avoiding us. With the pinnacle in site, we were really tired. Would the trek up this Swiss mountain be worth it?
What we saw as we crested the peak was unexpected and awe-inspiring. The world of the majestic snow-covered Alps opened up before us. The view was nothing short of magnificent. The rugged Alps seemed to go on forever. Our little mountain, which had seemed so high as we climbed up it, had been hiding this slice of glorious creation from our view. How is it possible to hide such a spectacular mountain range?
Life is a little like this experience. It requires more energy than we seem to have sometimes. We move through the pastures of life looking up toward what we cannot fully see, all the while watching where we put our feet (a necessity when hiking through pastures). At times, our hard work and perseverance lead to wondrous experiences. Often, they lead us through more of the rough terrain in life.
As I reflect back on that mountain hike, I was surely impressed by the panorama that opened up before me. However, as I look back, I'm not sure I don't value the hike itself even more than the view. All the anticipation and the expectation was in getting there. We rarely discover the worthwhile things of life without investing fully in the journey.