Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Mountain Top Experience

I haven't ever been able to answer the question Which do you prefer, the beach or the mountains, with perfect certainty. The sea, sand, and sunsets fill me with such a sense of serenity. I feel both relaxed and creative at the beach. The mountains also provide peace and restoration but in a more rejuvenating and refreshing way.

This summer, I've been blessed to experience both. After spending a week in the Bahamas, John and I spent a night in Atlanta, repacked, and headed out to Colorado. After his work event (where he oversaw Chick-fil-A providing thousands of runners with free sandwiches- including me since I ran in the BolderBoulder 10K race!), we spent the next three days exploring Colorado.

After finishing BolderBoulder 10K in 55:45!
Having never been to Colorado before, I was continually amazed at the majesty of the Rocky Mountains. We drove to the top of Pike's Peak, hiked at Seven Falls, walked the Garden of the Gods, explored Breckenridge, and hiked in Estes Park. The entire time I couldn't believe how breathtaking and huge the scenery was, with a combination of rocks, snow, trees, and wildlife - we saw a lot of deer, elk, and moose. Plus, staying with great friends, Josiah and Chelsea, made the trip all the more memorable.

However, what struck me most was hiking alongside such grandeur. The trail we hiked in Estes Park was 6 miles and very steep. Yet since we were on the edge of the mountain, to our right we had an incredible view of the Rocky Mountain National Park the entire time. The beauty certainly distracted me from the strenuous trail, and we approached the top a lot faster than I expected. Although the views along the hike were amazing, the summit was indescribable. (The picture of the summit directly above hardly does it justice.) John and I silently took it all in, unable to grasp the beauty.

It struck me that oftentimes when life is "uphill," difficult, and rocky there is still beauty right alongside you, whether it's in nature, a relationship, or faith. Sometimes, you need to take your eyes off of the trail ahead (and risk tripping or a minor fall) and look around to appreciate these gifts. Oftentimes we doubt that our chaotic days will calm down; or conversely, we think that if life is presently providing blessings then the rough patches are yet to come.

Neither of these views is accurate. Life is never perfectly straight nor is it ever completely dark. Instead, beauty and peace coexist alongside the rocky and difficult. And awe-inspiring summits, both small and grand, appear throughout the journey... sometimes when least expected.

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