“Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!”
You knew that title was familiar, didn’t you? I borrowed it from the MLK, Jr. speech he gave the day before his assassination in Memphis, Tennessee. I am by no means comparing myself to Martin Luther King, Jr., but I do share his faith and his regard for the power of a mountain.
When my group of friends and I climbed Mt. Kenya a few weeks ago, we knew we had shared a truly awesome journey. What is it about climbing mountains that makes the experience so powerful that we invoke it in metaphor? Is it the air at 16,000 feet (~5000m) with half the oxygen available at sea level? Is it the awe-inspiring views of from the longest line of sight on the Earth to Mt. Kilimanjaro or the snow-shrouded peaks bathed in the full moon set against a curtain of stars when you awake to climb at 2:30 in the morning? Perhaps the magic is in the challenge of seeing the peaks on the first day and knowing you will hike some fifty kilometers and over a mountain before your journey comes to an end. But maybe we don’t need to find the reason. Maybe the magic is in the mystery of the mountain and power of the human body and mind to journey on even the most difficult paths.