Good morning! I went hiking yesterday with some friends. We started from Gardner Canyon in the Santa Rita Mountains to the top of Mount Wrightston, at an elevation of 9456 feet. It is the tallest of the “sky islands” that surround Tucson. The elevation gain from the start of the hike to the top was 3300 feet. The view from the top was stunning! I loved hearing the birds sing, the smell of the oaks and pines and the beautiful Arizona ash and Arizona sycamore. Most of all, I loved visiting with the others in our group. They are wonderful people.
From Mount Wrightson, we could see Mount Graham in the Pinaleño’s, the Chiricahua’s, the Mule Mountains, the Whetstone’s, the Dragoon’s, the Huachuca’s, the Catalinas, others that I don’t know the names of, and even mountains into Mexico. What an amazing perspective! I was stuck by what seemed to be an optical illusion: in the Rincon Mountains, Mica Mountain is at a higher elevation than Rincon Peak. However, just eyeballing it, Rincon Peak SEEMS to be higher. Is that because Rincon Peak is more “pointed” and Mica Mountain is more “rounded”? Or is it because Mica Mountain is further away? I don’t know. The other thing that one of our hiking partners pointed out was how relatively “small” the Whetstone’s appeared to be when viewed from Mount Wrightston; they are about 2,000 feet lower. However, as we came down Mount Wrightston and as we drove back toward Benson, the Whetstone’s appeared to be larger again.
Isn’t that like life? Perspective is SO important!
When I attended the suicidology conference in Denver a few weeks ago, one of the speakers mentioned Richard Nixon’s farewell speech when he resigned as president of the U.S in 1974. In this speech, Nixon quotes Theodore Roosevelt, who wrote the following in his journal after his young daughter’s death, “And when my heart’s dearest died — died, the light went from my life forever.” Nixon then comments, “[Theodore Roosevelt] thought the light had gone from his life forever — but he went on. And he not only became President but, as an ex-President, he served his country always in the arena, tempestuous, strong, sometimes wrong, sometimes right, but he was a man.” In response to Theodore Roosevelt’s statement that the light had left his life forever, Nixon observes, “Not true. It’s only a beginning — always. The young must know it; the old must know it. It must always sustain us because the greatness comes not when things go always good for you, but the greatness comes when you are really tested, when you take some knocks, some disappointments, when sadness comes; because only if you’ve been in the deepest valley can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain.”
As we hiked, the vegetation and birds changed, depending on the current elevation. Even in the same micro-environment, some birds eat insects in the air; others eat seeds on the ground; others drink nectar from flowers; yet others eat dead animals. Everything has its purpose and season. What is my current purpose and season?
One of my hiking companions shared the story of his father’s conversion to the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. That was very tender. He also spoke of all those who mentored him when he was growing up who helped him before his father was ready to assume that role. It made me think of all those who have mentored me over the years; I hope I can “pay forward” their generosity as they loved me and taught me.
For me, hiking UP is difficult because it makes me huff and puff from the exertion. However, hiking DOWN is actually MORE difficult; my knees and quads were VERY fatigued by the end of the hike from putting the “brakes” on as we descended; my quads were so spent that they were quivering. One of my hiking companions and I were talking about that. I wondered aloud, “How does one train for hiking downhill?” At first, neither of us could think of anything, but then I said, “I guess by hiking downhill!” How do I “train” for the difficulties of life? There are several potential responses to this question, but one of the responses is by “[pressing] forward with steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and love of God and of all men.” Just keep moving, “continually holding fast to the rod of iron.”
As we returned home, I was exhausted, but exhilarated, knowing what I had accomplished. I want to repeat a similar exertion sometime in the near future so that I can build on the conditioning that I experienced yesterday.
We returned home in the afternoon. I then attended the baptism of a very courageous lady. She suffers from a severe medical condition and lives alone. I thought of how physically weak she is, but of how spiritually and emotionally strong she is. It occurred to me that part of the reason she is so spiritually and emotionally strong is BECAUSE of her medical condition and loneliness. If I choose to endure my trials with faith in God’s plan and in the Atonement of His Son, Jesus Christ, I can experience true joy and growth and strength.
Written by Carter