Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Nebo: When You See a Man on a Mountain...

Towering over the little town of Mona, Utah at 11,998 feet, stands one of the most unique mountains in all the world. From almost every angle, Mount Nebo's presidential profile stands symetrically perfect against the blue sky. Even from great distances, her shape is easily recognized, as if her triune peaks were meticulously carved for some great purpose. Named after the biblical Nebo in Jordan where Moses viewed the promised land, our Mount Nebo's beauty evokes poetic and artistic expression of a reverent sort with the locals who re-create her likeness in word and picture. And no wonder. I've seen grown men moved to tears under the spell of her long shadows and soft sunset lighting. Nebo has a unique talent among mountains. She freely offers her defined beauty to all comers: from the average valley traveler, to the sinewy hiker that is willing to pay the price of climbing her vertical slopes.

Clilmbing to Mount Nebo's summit is a parable with a likeness to ascending through lifes challenges--impossibly tough, but completely worth the struggle. Over the years, I have made the climb numerous times, and my children have all stood on her South peak by the time they were four to six years old. Making the summit takes more than physical strength--it takes mental toughness that few other activities require.

This year, it was Preston's turn. And for the first time, we took horses and mules part way to the top. I thought it would be much easier and faster, but found that it takes all the same physical strength and mental toughness as hiking--only me knees were saved. Preston, age 6, beamed with glee after handling his horse the whole trip by himself, over some tremendously rugged trail.

As I stood on top of Mount Nebo on the 4th of July, the great truism penetrated my mind, "If you see a man on a mountain, you can be sure he didn't fall there."