Monday, May 2, 2011

Many Mountains Many Fates

In the spring of 1996 several groups of hardcore mountain climbers began the treacherous yet incredibly enticing climb up the face of Mount Everest in Nepal. They had trained for years, paid tens of thousands of dollars in fees and left their loved ones for months in hopes of reaching the highest point in the world. They paid heavy wages to hardworking Sherpas, who helped them carry their burdensome loads.
On May 11, 1996 those same men who gave everything to get to the top, would have given everything to get to the bottom. On that one fateful night, eight climbers met their doom as a powerful storm rolled in and killed them one by one. Their bodies still litter the trails, along with seven other climbers who died that same climbing season.
I wonder how many of those men, given a choice, if a choice were possible, would never have begun to train for that disastrous hike up Mt. Everest. I wonder if they would have worked overtime to obtain the extra cash needed to gain access to their rocky grave. I wonder how many men would give anything to have never started down the road that led to their demise. I wonder…I wonder how many men rue the day they decided to go contrary to the tug of the Holy Spirit telling them to go no further, to take a left turn instead of a right, to look the other way as their glance turned into a stare which blossomed into an affair which resulted in misery. I wonder how many men would give it all back for a second chance at that first one chance.
My father once quipped after nearly losing his life on a remote mountain in Nevada, “One never truly conquers a mountain, it is just that sometimes it lets you see its beauty and sometimes…sometimes it lets you live”. How many men have climbed a mountain of lust and sin, believing they escaped its punishment due to their shrewdness and intelligence, only to revisit the mountain, but this time the mountain did not let them return. We are curious creatures scurrying about seeking the next crag despite the penalty that whistles in the wind from high atop its jagged peaks. Be cautious of the pull of the magnificent, for in her bosom awaits freezing death and horrors untold that cannot be grasped this side of anguish. "The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Mth. 7:13-14).