My Little Chapel on the Side of a Mountain

The plan last Monday afternoon was to climb Twin Sisters. Yet our plans were soon foiled when there was only a few of us to climb. I was determined to at least attempt something so four of us set out to attempt to climb Estes Cone. A backpack filled with nourishment and lots of water ready to reach the summit.

With hiking sticks in my hand, we set out on the path. In the opening moments, I found myself panting and trying to catch my breathe. I listened as my friends; our guides taught me to find my breathe and regulate my breathing.

Within moments, I’ll admit I felt defeated but I kept going and didn’t say too much. I was determined to fulfill my goal and to fulfill the promise I made a year earlier. Hiking along, we found a group of horses and the running waters of a stream where the old Eugenia mines used to be.

Before long, our feet carried us from switchback to switchback; winding up and down the mountain. And with each switchback, I found myself fighting off defeat and tears. However, the tears and defeat soon seemed to take over. My eyes welling up with tears as I whinely found myself repeating, “I can’t do this. Go on without me!” My friends weren’t going to let me give in though. They counted my steps. They encouraged me to pretend I was shopping. They even asked me what I would say to the youth I worked with in my life.

As we neared the top, I struggled more and more. I didn’t think I could get there. My friend Scott had gone up ahead and ended up performing first aid on a fellow hiker. As Scott came back down to meet us, I uttered the words “I’m done. I can’t go any further.” My other two friends continued up the mountain to the top while Scott and I began the trek back to the trailhead.

But not before I experienced an incredible holy moment. Scott pointed out an already made chapel on the hill. All that was missing was a cross so he made a makeshift cross. Scott went ahead while I took some time for myself. I buried a small momento of the past under the rock pile. I turned on Ellie Holcomb’s song Red Sea Road and listened as the words to her song echoed in my ear: “We’ve buried dreams, laid them deep into the earth behind us. Said our goodbyes at the grave but everything reminds us. I know sweet ache when he asks us to go on. How do we go on?”

With buried dreams, tears quickly begin streaming down my face. Like incense rising, I lift my prayers to God; a simple letting go of the past and looking towards the future. A holy cathartic cleansing captured in time and space.

I wipe the tears from my eyes as I look up to the sky. I’m so close to the top, I feel as if I can reach out and grab God’s hand. With a newfound peace, I walk to catch up to my friend Scott. In silence, we begin our decent down the mountain. Along the way, I can’t help but take in the amazingness of God’s creation. We stop and my friend points out how close to the top I was. I’m proud of how far I did come; furthest I’ve ever gone!

Soon we reach the trailhead. A few momentos of this trip are shared with me. Three different items symbolical of the triune God; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit serving as a reminder of who and whose I am.

“You cannot stay on the summit forever,
You have to come down again…
So why bother in the first place?
Just this: what is above knows what is below;
But what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, But one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up.”–Rene Dumal

A memory now engrained in my heart and soul as words spill out onto the page

A Holy Sanctuary
By Tara L. Ulrich

A makeshift cross
Set on the side of the mountain
A sanctuary set before my eyes.

A moment of silence,
Then prayers raised to God
Like incense rising.

Ellie Holcomb’s Red Sea Road
Playing on my iPhone
As the words sink into my heart and soul;
Each word a reminder of life’s realities.

Tears begin streaming down my face,
A holy cathartic moment,
Captured in time and space;
A simple letting go of the past
And looking towards the future.

Leaving behind this holy sanctuary,
One foot is placed in front of the other
Each step a step towards new possibilities
Signs of God’s goodness all around
Until the end of the path is complete.

At the end of the path,
my eyes are lifted to the sky
As I remember who I am;
A beloved child of God
Who will never be forsaken.

A beloved child of God
Called to let go of the past
And move towards
New adventures and possibilities.

The makeshift cross
Now standing alone
On the mountain.

Im linking up with these lovelies:  Kelly and the RaRa linkup, Jennifer and Tell His Story, Holley and Coffee for Your Heart, and Kristen and Porch Stories. 




11 thoughts on “My Little Chapel on the Side of a Mountain

  1. Praying for strength to return and renewed energy! I love how the Lord meets us right where we are – especially when we are disappointed. Transformational! Loved this post.

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