Tag Archives: Christianity

Mount Olympus Beckoned, and I Responded

Posted by David

This is a two-part experiment. My dad and I have both provided each other blog topics. My topic is on the the beckoning call of Mount Olympus. This heavily-glaciated, relatively low-elevation mountain is located about 25 raven miles from where I currently live. Oh, one more thing, I’ve never actually climbed it.

hohcirque

Hoh Cirque on Olympus Massif, 2001.

But I have traveled its glacial flanks. Once on a five-day trip in late August, some friends and I hiked around the east side of the Olympus massif. We started at the Hoh visitor center, hiked up the lush rainforest valley and went over the eastern glacial lobes. We worked our way over to the headwaters of the Queets and back northwestward through the Bailey Range. After having to spend one night in a very tight position on rock ledges and krummholtz, we exited the wilderness through the Sol Duc Trailhead one valley over and to the south of the actual peak of Olympus.

That last paragraph told you very little of the experience. Can writing ever do an experience justice? What I’m going to write about is to try to convey the difference between the reality of wilderness (or the reality of experience) and what we read, hear or experience through words, literature or media of all sorts.

Nothing compares to living reality. Books, words, photographs or multimedia don’t even come close. Each time I go hiking in a beautiful place, I end up saying to myself. Oh, now I remember what this place was like. I can’t know it until I’m there again. I can’t even really remember it. There’s a built-in amnesia for those sorts of places. The epiphany doesn’t occur until I’m immersed in it. In the past, I called this experience wilderness amnesia. Places and experiences, and people for that matter, can’t be conveyed in an accurate manner through words or media. In fact, reality is not designed that way.

History and civilization has had the same effect on us human inhabitants, as does distance from wilderness. The further we get from our roots, our home, the more the amnesia sets in. The more we don’t know what it was like. The more we think, “this is normal,” when it is not. This amnesia sets in until the reality of our existence is so hidden, so foreign, so fragmented that we become blind. We go beyond the threshold, the horizon, of knowing reality.

The Three Crosses, Rembrandt (1606-1669), Drypoint and burin, 1653

The Three Crosses, Rembrandt (1606-1669), Drypoint and burin, 1653

As a Christian, I feel the same about the Kingdom of Heaven. Like wilderness, Eden was a place that is almost unfathomable for us humans. Unlike wilderness, Eden isn’t a place where we can simply hike into. However, as Jesus says, “Kingdom of Heaven is at hand,” so we can get glimpses. I’ve received fleeting epiphanies of the Kingdom of Heaven. The experience in wilderness is one of those fleeting epiphanies. The experience of truly loving relationships is another one of those fleeting epiphanies. God’s communication through prayer is yet another example of those fleeting epiphanies. Thankfully, these epiphanies help to keep amnesia at bay.

We are beckoned by these fleeting epiphanies, whether it be Mount Olympus or the Kingdom of heaven. The beckoning may even come through words, pictures and media of all sorts. But the beckoning itself is fully realized in experience. So, get out there and feel the beckoning call of wilderness, of the Kingdom, and of Life.

I’ve posted two images, in which I feel that fleeting epiphany. Look closely and study the images and maybe you to will feel the beckoning call also.

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