A 22-year old young man, on a three-week mountaineering trip
in the North Cascade Mountains of Washington state climbs
the steep rock wall at nine-thousand feet. Hes from New
Jersey, and has never camped in his life. Now, just as hes
about to "top out" on the summit of this rocky peak,
he has skills and perceptions hed never dreamed of having
a month ago. He pulls up from the shadows of the cliff, over the
last ledge into the sun, onto the summit world. The guide is there,
holding the rope for him at the top watching his face, as he takes
in the 360-degree, cottony cloud and blue sky view of the jagged
peaks all around him. In awe of the beauty and his feelings, he
drops to his knees.
mother and three teenagers, are at 16,000 feet in a remote Peruvian
village in the Andes. After traveling two days on high mountain
roads, and then on horseback on trails that climb among glaciated
peaks, the group spends two days with village elders and priests
of "The Nation of the Qero." These are an independent
people who have very little contact with the modern world. A village
?Elder diplomatically challenges the teens about their concept
of life and the environment. We spend time learning about the
plants, mountains, the earth, and our role in it. They talk to
us about how to "keep ones center" when lifes
situations bring us challenges and how to call upon the "apus"
or mountain spirits for help. The Elder explains to the teens,
that more is not better. More importantly, he graciously suggests
they regularly give thanks for what they have, in an often confusing
time of life.
A group of six blindfolded nurses, crawls on their hands and
knees on a lawn outside the hospital. They are looking for
little colored plastic building blocks. They are taking non-verbal
cues from their 6 teammates outside a thirty foot circle marked
on the grass. The toot of a whistle means "go left",
a shaker means "no", a bell, "yes". Frustration
builds and tempers flare. Fifteen minutes later, after the activity
has ended, as a group, the participants share what it was like,
not being heard, or not being able to communicate to other team
members. The facilitator asks them, "Have you ever observed
this happening at work?" and with smiles from the group,
the discussion moves forward.
Participants have just come back from their three-day "Solo"
experience deep in the woods with minimal food and
gear. They have come back together in silence and now sit in a
circle. they are about to share some of their experiences. A poem
The time to meditate comes slim, indeed!
The constant business of life about me
leaves short time for quiet thought.
Sometimes I desire no busy life about me
just the rocks, the snow , the night and the stars;
For these things I do not disturb
when I think deep and alone
and feel close in my being
to a silent and knowing God
coming forth from these things
the rocks, the snow, the night and the stars.
William Allan Long.
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