• Jason E. Fort

Going Out of the Way to Get Higher

Don't we all do it? Isn't there some inexorable yearning inside all of us to reach as high as we can? Don't get me wrong; I think as high as you can is relative to the individual. But today, I went pretty much as high as I can go, relative to my geographic convenience and physical conditioning :) But as I hiked up Glassy Mountain today, on the property of the Carl Sandburg Home National Site in the village of Flat Rock, NC - I couldn't help but think of how I kind of went out of my way to get to the top of the mountain. And as one can see from the photo, sure, it's a nice view; but I bet some readers who have never been to the site were expecting more... especially if they've ever seen the Rockies, or the Alps. Doesn't this reflect something we all experience in the journey of life? And is there some reason, in one form or fashion, each and every one of us are seeking to get higher? In order to plan on my excursion for the day, I had to use some vacation time. I normally line that up at work at least a month in advance. I got up this morning and did some last minute laundry to make sure I had enough clean clothes for the rest of the week. I even packed a crate of my novels in case I ran into any folks I knew in the mountains, who might want to buy a book or two. I left out the front door of my home to get to my parents' house in Flat Rock about an hour before lunch time. Now, I know there are things much farther 'out of the way,' but the hiking and getting away from everything, finding a high place to write and get inspiration, was my whole reason for going. Throughout history, mankind has always tried to get higher. How, you might ask? Without getting religious for a second, think about all the men and women that have strived to reach the pinnacle of achievement... whether it be above physical terrain, or emotional euphoria, or ambition. For eons, men hiked and climbed mountains. They set out beyond known territories to reach unexplored lands. They wanted to build larger and larger structures to the sky. They wanted to fly like eagles. And they wanted to reach the stars. None of these things are exactly conveniently accomplished; people have died to reach pinnacles, both the physical and metaphorical peaks. Is it any coincidence that all of these things are an attempt to get closer to God? What other living being on Earth does this? None; ambition and deterministic behavior to an ultimate goal (besides the normal biological patterns of migratory and mating behaviors) are strictly human behavior. I just don't believe that's a coincidence. In ages old, people sacrificed animals to their gods on mountaintops. Ancient myths told of men trying to fly by making their own wings with feather and beeswax. In the Bible, people tried to build a tower all the way up to God. And yet when people reach as high as they can, they just aren't satisfied, are they? Perhaps, but there are reasons for that satisfaction, such as who they were climbing to the top for in the first place. But many times, they seek that next emotional or ambitious high of achievement; not all that different from the drug addict, who is constantly seeking the next, better high. I reached the top of a small mountain today, but there were some elderly people and small children I saw at the parking lot that were never going to make it up there today. Yet there are plenty of hikers of the Appalachian Trail that would laugh at me as they whizzed by, had we started at the bottom of the Glassy Mountain trail together. There are men and women who have summited Everest. There are people who have piloted airplanes, at really high altitudes. There are astronauts who've orbited the planet. Yet we seek to get farther. We as the human race have tried to supplant God with ourselves, because of all these achievements, yet somehow keep trying to find out what is past that next limit. The satisfaction will never come. Not in the sense that some grand ultimate goal can ever be reached, because the universe is relatively infinite to our tiny little spot in space. But I did climb a mountain today to feel closer to God. I wasn't able to reach Him physically, or reach out and feel Him concretely. But God sent a bridge for us all, if we're willing to accept it. I can feel closer to God because of that bridge, Jesus Christ. He's the only answer, to reaching the unreachable. We have an eternal open channel of communication to Him through prayer. If you believe in His ultimate sacrifice, for our sins (which is another whole blog post), you and anyone else can reach the pinnacle. In the great big scheme of things, that's all that really matters. Oh, remember how I said earlier that sometimes when we reach the top, it isn't always how we pictured it? I wrote the last couple of paragraphs in the parking lot; a thunderstorm came while I started typing this post. And no matter how confident I am in reaching God through Jesus... God also gave me enough sense to get down the mountain, ahead of the lightning. I'd love to hear from any of you. Tell me about your journey to a mountaintop. Tell me what you think about our need to always break limits. I'm an open book, and can always chat when I have a little free time. In the meantime, God bless- Jason

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