Climbing Life’s ‘Old Rag’ Mountains

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TheDiscipleMD

One of my fondest memories of youth was an annual ward event of climbing a mountain called “Old Rag”. The mountain is located in the Shenandoah National Park of Virginia. As a young boy I looked forward to the day when our ward took the eight mile hike up the mountainside. I recall that my favorite part of the hike was to see how fast I could hike it. Could I be the first from the ward to reach the top of “Old Rag”? I would run up the mountain as fast as my legs could carry me. I don’t recall if I ever was the first up, but I know that was always my goal. Not only was my goal to be the first up, but the first one down as well. So upon reaching the summit, I would glance around, sit down for a moment and then get back up and start down. I don’t recall anything about the beauty of the vista which is a shame, because according to published reports, the views found there are apparently the best in the entire Blue Ridge Mountains. I have fond memories of climbing “Old Rag”, but in my youthful exuberance, I missed out on the majestic nature of the climb.  Today, now much older,  I would get much more out of climbing “Old Rag” than I did as a youth. Time and experience has taught me that life is short, and that the “climb” is more about the journey than the destination.

A few years ago a popular song on the radio was called “The Climb”. Among the lyrics were these words:

“There’s always gonna be another mountain. I’m always gonna wanna make it move. Always gonna be an up-hill battle. Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose. Ain’t about how fast I get there. Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side. It’s the climb! Keep on moving! Keep climbing! Keep the faith baby! It’s all about The climb! Keep the faith! Keep your faith!” (“The Climb”, Miley Cyrus)

I quote from the words of Thomas S. Monson:

” I believe that among the greatest lessons we are to learn in this short sojourn upon the earth are lessons that help us distinguish between what is important and what is not. I plead with you not to let those most important things pass you by as you plan for that illusive and nonexistent future when you will have time to do all that you want to do. Instead, find joy in the journey—now.” (“Finding Joy in the Journey”, GC, Oct. 2008)

The purpose of life really is more about what we learn through “the climb” than our final destination.  Remember “that the race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong.”  (Ecclesiastes 9:11) This life is designed to mold us in order for us to “qualify” for the final destination. Without “the climb” we wouldn’t be fit to reach it. Let us enjoy the “view” as we travel up life’s mountain. Life needn’t be a race back home to Him who sent us. Let us not overlook the wonderful vista God gives us during our journey.

Today, I look back on the wonder of hiking up “Old Rag” as a boy.  It stirs up good memories.  But I also can’t help but think of opportunities I missed of enjoying the mountain’s real beauty.  As we travel along the rocky path of life, we need to pause, and take time to ponder and learn from the view at hand. Sometimes that can be hard when we feel battered and bruised. We want to just “get on” with it. But, with the understanding we have of the plan of salvation, we of all people should know that the journey is the most important part of reaching the summit.

“Old Rag” is still there for me to climb. I could take time this very week to hike it.  Perhaps I will! It’s just a few hours from my house.  Yet, its more likely I won’t. Life is busy. Job, family, church….life! Sometimes life gives us opportunities that come across our path just once. Maybe we should just enjoy the view God’s gives us…today!

 

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