As I began to climb my thoughts were on home. Journeys like this always seem to have a little sting to it when I realize that I have left people behind. I have been experiencing the beauty of this country for a few days now. My constant guilt is making me tired. When looking deep within myself, I have the realization that I do not deserve good things. God promises us hope, yet with some, it comes through suffering. For myself lately it comes in the beauty and privilege that I know as my life. What do we do when we are no longer struggling? What do we do when our complacency leads us to new places and new adventures that don’t seem to matter in the grand plan of our existence? I’ve left everything behind for a few weeks to take a chance on exploring a new land without those that matter to me most. My passion for discovery has led me far away and nothing else seems to matter. It is as if I am becoming more and more self-centered by the day.
My breathing is becoming heavier and heavier. I have not been able to breathe well since I arrived here. I have come to the realization that I have been staring at my feet for quite sometime now. I am missing it all, because I am thinking of home and of the way my legs and lower back are beginning to burn. I am being forced to look down, as it is important that I watch my step. I’ve decided that riding a horse the rest of the way up was in my best interest. I can go back to my thoughts of whatever I choose and not have to worry about my breathing or where I am stepping. I can enjoy the view. As we made our way through the fog, it never occurred to me how high the elevation was. I saw this as a minor inconvenience. It is hard to think about the picturesque landscape of clouds when you are walking through them. There simply is not much of a view.
Upon approaching the top, I speak often with the boy leading the horse up that I am riding. He makes this journey a few times a day. At 11 years old, this boy must be in way better shape then I am. He is happy with the money that he makes doing this and says that he is lucky to be able to do this job with his cousin.
After arriving towards the top I am not that impressed. Hills and piles of lava ash and rock surround me. It has been getting a little cold on the way up so the heat coming from the rocks is nice when you get close to them. The heated rocks turn out to be perfect for roasting marshmallows. The sun began to set.
It is difficult to look around and not think of the beauty that lies in the brushstrokes of God. It is difficult to not feel small and insignificant. It is difficult to care about anything else in such moments. As the colors rolled off the clouds everything suddenly became silent. There is much talking going on, but I manage to tune it completely out. I imagine that I can feel those that I love and hold dearest, right next to me. Moments such as these make me think back on much of my life. Good and bad things both flash through my mind. I think of making my parents proud. I think of disappointing many people. I think of the suffering endured because of the loss of those you care about. I think about personal triumphs as well as the honor that it is to belong to a loving and caring community of people in the city I live in, as well as on campus. I think about everything leading up to this moment and I just cannot begin to comprehend why I am in this place here and now, experiencing this beautiful moment. I have a feeling that this moment was created to make me wonder, to make me reflect, to make me stand in awe of this spectacular display. A few verses from Psalms I had memorized a long time ago comes to mind.
“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
What is man that You are mindful of him,
And the son of man that You visit him?
For You have made him a little lower than the angels,
And You have crowned him with glory and honor.
You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands;
You have put all things under his feet.”
Thank you Lord!
(Photo taken near the top of active volcano, Mt. Pacaya December 30, 2011)