Friday, May 8, 2015
“I like the mountains because they make me feel small. They help me sort out what's important in life.” ― Mark Obmascik
Staying with my moment theme, I’m going back a long way, over forty years, to a moment that gave me a glimpse of the glory of God. When we lived in Los Angeles, I learned to do rock climbing and winter mountain climbing. I weighed a lot less then, so other guys didn’t mind me being tied to them by a rope. Los Angeles is bordered on the north by the San Gabriel mountains, almost always covered in snow in winter. One of the biggest, Mt. San Antonio, known locally as “Old Baldy” was right behind where we lived in the eastern end of L.A. county. I climbed it and several others in the area, but one was an extremely memorable climb. You don’t always reach the summit which is why they call it “climbing” and not “summiting.” Once, I didn’t reach the summit because the wife of a friend climbing with me got frost bite on her feet around 9,000 feet and I held those frozen things against my bare stomach for hours till they began to thaw out and we could start back down--she was fine when we got back. What I most loved to do was to begin climbing in the afternoon when there was going to be a full moon. I would climb to about 8,000 feet and make camp in the snow around dinner time. At about three in the morning, I would begin my climb to the summit. The moonlight reflecting off the snow made it almost as bright as day. I was then able to summit just before dawn and watch the sun come up. The San Gabriel mountains run east and west but the Sierra Nevada mountains run north and south far up the state. From the summit of Old Baldy, you could actually see the shadows of the Sierras shrink across the state of California as the sun rose higher and higher in the sky. You could see for hundreds of miles, and as I stood there alone watching the hand of God touching the planet upon which I lived, I felt His living presence. I tried to repeat this experience more than once, but the frost bitten toes of a friend, avalanches, and other obstacles kept it from ever happening again. Just that one morning as I stood alone at what seemed like the top of the world, I got to watch as more and more of California became full of the sunshine and warmth provided by God. I was covered in down clothing because it was about 10 below zero, standing in the snow, but my heart was almost never that warm again. What a moment. What an awesome God.