On the Hike and In the Process

Yesterday I talked with my uncle Mark who had just summited Mt. St. Helens. Recounting the journey, he showed me beautiful pictures of his camera. Unlike other hikes where you have switch-backing trails, uncle Mark, uncle Mike, my cousin Greg and the rest of their crew just walked up the mountainside. Beyond the sheer beauty of the mountainside and the incredible views, what stood out to me was his short video clip of him hiking. He took deliberate steps in a slow rhythm, the crampons teething into the ice with each step. “Now these other pictures are great,” he said, “but this is really the view you have most of the hike. You’re looking at your feet, stepping one foot in front of the other. Do this for eight hours and you’ve reached the top.” This spoke to me on a few levels. At one level, it’s encouraging to see that climbing a mountain is really just walking up a steep hill. Yes, there are other areas of conditioning, like learning to function with less air, but hiking a mountain is not impossible. It also spoke to me on a life-level.

I get impatient when I don’t see or feel progress. I don’t always feel a big-picture view of my life, or a sense of having reached the summit. I'm not always looking down at where I have come from and seeing what I have accomplished. Maybe I’m not an action junkie, but I’m probably a feedback junkie. When my uncle Mark shared his story, I felt like God was reminding me to keep walking. A mountain hike requires a commitment and at least some perspective. You walk up because you said you will. In life, I think it’s important to have some sense of where we’re going. What is the larger purpose, the dream I am walking toward? I also think it’s important to walk. I am learning that achievement of great things doesn’t come without lots of hard work. I’m learning that obsessing over the destination is often unhelpful. The journey forms us in its rhythms and processes. The question is, will I keep walking?