Go Tell It On The Mountain When I was 16, I attended a Youth Conference in Estes Park Colorado. While the whole week was wonderful, a couple of particular events were really special. I, and the small group I was with called these events "mountain-top" experiences.
I can recall other "mountain-top" experiences at Lake Tahoe with Lori, my wife -quiet afternoons in the sun on large rocks at lake level. Last week though, I believe, I took personal mountain-top experiences to new "heights."
My family and I were in Hawaii on the island of Maui. Early in our week there we drove to the top of Haleakala, the inactive volcano on the island. While we left early in the morning, we didn't get to the summit in time for the sunrise. We had a great time on the mountain, climbing, looking and taking pictures. We resolved to come back later in the week, making sure we were there in time for the sunrise. (You know something is cool when even your four and ten year old children want to get up extra early to go back for sunrise!).
We determined to make our return trip on Thursday. We left our condo about 5 am (45 minutes earlier than on our first trip) and as we drove along the ocean we were captivated by the brilliant full moon - so captivated that we stopped to take pictures of it as its light shone across the still waters of the Pacific. About two-thirds of the way up to the top of the volcano, the National Park Ranger told us we would have to hurry to make sunrise. As we finished our drive, Lori and I planned a strategy. I'll take the video, you take pictures, I suggested. Since she is the much better photographer, this was an easy call. The planning was so that we could get pictures quickly if needed.
Throughout the winding (VERY winding) climb we continued to comment on the full moon. While the sky was slowly transforming from a night sky, the moon maintained its luster. As we reached the top I was thinking to myself, that the moon alone was worth the trip - wondering if the sunrise could possibly be any better.
We arrived in the parking lot, and saw many people poised with cameras, and it was clear we weren't too late! As Lori prepared to take pictures, Parker, our son said he wanted to climb White Hill. This short but steep hike is one we had taken on our earlier trip. I knew he liked the view from there - I do too. I started up and while I wanted to follow him, I didn't want to miss the sunrise on the walk! He was gone. Lori needed solitude to take pictures, so Kelsey, our four-year-old daughter and I started walking up White Hill.
I wanted to film, I needed to watch my step, and I had to help Kelsey and hold her hand. We made good progress. We moved up the hill to a point were I could see back to the east. On the horizon, I knew the sun would rise soon. I urged Kelsey to stand beside me and watch the sun. I turned on the camera. I started by looking the other way - at that amazing full moon, then turned to catch the entire sunrise on video.
Seldom in my life have I been so awed in a situation.
Parker had witnessed the sunrise from the top of White Hill, Kelsey and I part way up, Lori from a couple hundred feet below.
A few minutes later we were together again as a family at the top of White Hill. For a few moments I was overcome with emotion. I had just experienced indescribable beauty, and had the opportunity to share that with the people I love the most. I paused, reflected, took a deep breath and added these moments to my list of "mountaintop" experiences.
As the day wore on and we frolicked in the ocean, I thought about the morning. There are only 12 or 13 full moons each year. Certainly, the sky would be cloudy for some of them, so the chance of having an experience like we had has to be rare. Given that I don't live on Maui, for me it is likely, once in a lifetime.
Off the Mountain
Certainly not all of my most magical, memorable and meaningful experiences in life have taken place at altitude. Regardless, I still call them "mountain-top experiences." You might call these experiences by different names, but you've had them just the same. My most recent "high" got me thinking about these experiences.
There are four things we can do to enrich our lives even further by these types of moments (whatever you choose to call them): be aware, recognize them, remember them, and be grateful for them.
The first step to blessing your life with these experiences is to be aware of their existence! Recognize that they can show up in the seemingly most mundane and ordinary situations and locations. Being aware, almost expectant, will help you "catch" more of these experiences.
You have to notice them, as they are occurring! On Haleakala, I recognized what was happening, that this was an amazing set of circumstances, leading to a wonderful moment. When we can recognize these experiences in the moment, our appreciation of them is heightened.
This is easier if you have done the last step of remembering them. When we recognize the wonder of the moment as it is occurring, we can do some simple things to help remember it better. Take a moment, in the moment, to take it all in. Close your eyes and remember the sounds and the smells. Open your eyes and take mental pictures that you can refer to anytime you want to remember the situation. Consciously engaging your senses with your brain in a "Let's remember this" challenge will help you more easily return to the magical time and place.
If you are a writer or keep a journal, writing about the experience later is another way to keep the details real and them memory stronger.
Be grateful for the gift of the experience. If this is an experience you shared with others, thank them for helping make your experience so wonderful. Based on my beliefs, I thanked God for creating the Hawaii moment. I encourage you to express your gratitude in ways consistent with your beliefs. A deep sense of gratitude for the experience will deepen and enrich the experience even further.
I'm down from the mountain now. I know that my description of the moment I experienced can't do justice to it, for that I apologize. On the other hand, my main goal is to get you thinking about your own "mountain-top" moments.
It doesn't matter if you have thought about this before, or if you have but haven't followed my "formula." Take some time soon to reflect over the moments you would call most magical. Remember them, and be grateful for them now.
And begin living in an awareness and expectancy that you'll add a new one soon. Who knows, maybe it will be today.
Yours in Learning,
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