Not Everest, but a mountain nonetheless.
After saying for years that I wanted to attempt the Chimney Tops Trail in the Great Smokey Mountains I did it and nothing could have prepared me for the experience. I'd been told by family members who had hiked it in the past that it was steep, it was brutal on the heart and lungs going up and brutal on the calves going down. I winced when the hikers cringed with calf pain the next day, but still nothing could have prepared me for the actual feeling of the calf pain until I experienced it for myself.
What on earth was I thinking?
But....this out of shape, more gray hair than natural color, woman did it. Climbed a mountain.
Now some of you may not think this was a big deal, some may even think the Smokies aren't anything like the Rockies or the Alps or the Himalayas, but to me this was a mountain. (And according to the information board at the trailhead - the Chimney Tops Trail is 1400 feet in two miles, which is very steep! Even if you're not out of shape and have all your original hair color!)
If you've ever driven through the Smokies, or any national park, you know how big nature really is. And how small we are in comparison. As we were driving to the trailhead and climbing higher in elevation, I began to feel really small. And the problems and concerns and the earthly junk that is forever harassing started to get smaller as the mountains grandeur got bigger.
But then we started hiking and the view got more contained again. I could only see what was in front of me (mostly on the ground as I looked down to make sure I didn't trip) and once in awhile as I looked to my right - ah, steep, straight down with big tall towering trees that you couldn't see the beginning or the end but just the vantage point of eye level - and looking to my left was mostly rock and dirt and bushes. And more rock.
When it was still easy.
Thankfully my husband, who sweats profusely kept us at a slow pace to keep his sweat pumps at bay so my heart and lungs thanked him as we continued the climb with stops every few minutes to look back at where we'd been and look up and see how far we still had to go.
The first sign we got to after starting the trail said 1.1 miles to the top! Ugh! You mean to tell me we haven't even gone a mile???????!!!!!!!!!!!
But as we kept climbing and stopping and climbing and thinking surely we're almost to the top, I kept thinking more and more how big this *$%^&$^&(* mountain was and how (*^&%&^$$# small I really am.
My daughter and son-in-law, both in awesome shape and with their original hair color stayed a good pace ahead of us with the promise that we were "almost there." Then there were the climbers coming down the mountain, those who had already made it, who were refreshed, who were smiling, who were talking without thinking their lungs would explode - thooossee people - they'd meet us and say, "you're almost there!"
Only a gazillion steps to go
Don't tell me I'm almost there if I'm not five steps from being to the top and still have a million to go! I thought grudgingly to myself. Oh wait, I think I did say that aloud a few times after they had passed.
But finally, finally, we made it to the top.
Well, almost. Not technically THE top, but pretty close.
This is where we started hearing we were "almost there". Not!
Not "there" either
We scaled a little of the flat rock which was the ONLY way to the very top, but the thought of having to come down the same flat rock, which by the time we got there was very HOT from baking in the sun did not appeal to me. And I had a little bit of a thought that I really didn't want to be on the news that evening as the lead story, "out of shape gray haired woman falls off the top of Chimney Tops Trail coming down."
As close to "there" as we were going to get
The real "there"
The view from our "there"
We didn't make it to the top but we sat and enjoyed the view from our "there." And as I sat, I saw how big a mountain really is. And I thought about how much bigger the One who made the mountain must be. And if the One who made the mountain is so much bigger than the mountain itself, then the worries and problems and harassment that took a ride up the mountain on my shoulders with me that day really are small and they were the ones that got thrown off the top of that mountain that day.
God, the creator of mountains and trees, really tall trees, and life and all things that make life worth living, is bigger than any small thing that I carry around with me.
He's bigger. Much, much bigger.
The things we're facing in this country and this world now seem very, very big and very, very scary.
But you know what?
God is bigger.
I thought I was small, imagine how he feels!
Now we can be the happy ones who made it!
Sometimes it's good to look back at how far you've come so you can keep climbing.
Keep climbing. Stop to catch to your breath and enjoy the view. Don't stand too close to the edge, but keep your eyes on the trail. Look back once in a while to see how far you've come, and when you turn around to look to see how far you have to go, just keep going. One step at a time. One foot in front of the other. The view and the sore excruciating relentless calf pain for a week after is worth it!