The physical journey mirrors very accurately the spiritual journey of your own life. It was one of the toughest things you’ve ever done. Hike two miles to the bottom of the first waterfall, climb to the top of that one, only to find yourself at the bottom of another waterfall, only higher. After reaching the top of the second waterfall you begin to understand why people actually train for the hike. You then push yourself for three miles straight uphill through the switchbacks of the Yosemite forests. You finally reach the base of the domes. Here, you have a picture taken to document the point at which you “hit-the-wall”…the wall of exhaustion. The guy taking the picture says, “You’ve done a great job getting this far, no one would blame you if you turned around.” You consider it, but just then, the reddest hummingbird you’ve ever seen flies near and seems to whisper in your ear, “You can do it. I’m telling you, you can do it!”
Two more gut wrenching, leg quivering miles to the “Cables.” To this point you’ve worked very hard to overcome physical limitation. Now you have to face some serious fear. The “Cables” run up a sheer face of the mountain. You’re not great with heights. It’s a 45 to 50 degree angle. You can swear that at points it’s more like 75 degrees. You’re thinking I didn’t come this far to turn back now…you’d truly rather die on the side of this mountain than to turn around and cower home (Well, maybe not that extreme, but close). So you take the cables into your gloved hands and begin ascending. No one’s talking on the cables. It’s well understood that if you let go, or have a severe leg cramp, you’re dead. Someone ahead of you loses a shoe. You’re terrified by the way that shoe tumbles down the mountain. Several people decide to turn around and go back down at this point. Unfortunately, there is only one way up and one way down. So, climbers in both directions have to share the precious cables. You decide to continue and focus on the task of putting one foot in front of the other. You made it! You made it to the top of the world famous Half Dome.
At the top there is no ethnicity, no gender, no age or any other difference, only deep respect and heartfelt admiration for the other humans willing to go. Lots of tears at the top. Lots of quiet contemplation. And, the most beautiful sight you’ve ever seen in your life. You cry hard and stay for about an hour of awe inspiring views and powerful spiritual space.
Now you’re on top of Half Dome, completely exhausted, legs quivering and cramping severely. And, worst of all you just let the very last drop of your water hit your tongue. All of this would not have been so bad if you were already back at the car. However, you’ve got to climb back down 9 miles of absolute gruel.
Going down the cables is worst than going up because you’re forced to look down at your fear. 4 miles into the return trip, severe dehydration symptoms humble you enough to ask a fellow hiker for water. You now understand why water is the most precious thing ever in the history of all of life, and all of the lives before that. You say to the fellow hiker, “I have $150 in my wallet right now. I’ll give it to you for one small swallow of your water.” Of course they do not take the money and give you about 8 oz. of water. Enough to make it down to the river stream. You know you should not drink the unfiltered river water but figure stomach cramps and diarrhea would be preferable to passing out from dehydration and being eaten by some of the local bears. You dip your towel into the cool river and suck on the moisture the rest of the way back down. Incredible! Back at the car, you whisper to yourself, “If I can do that, I can do anything.”
Whether or not you’ve hiked Half Dome you can relate to this story. We’ve all had times in our lives in which we’ve had to hang in there and push through extreme fatigue and fear. Those were also times when we felt most alive and invigorated.
Maybe you’re in the midst to something very challenging right now. Maybe you’re battling through a health crisis, or the health crisis of a loved one. Maybe you’re fighting for a relationship that is important to you. Maybe you’re striving for success in your job, business or your classes at school. Whatever the case, you can do it, I know you can do it! Just believe in yourself and keep putting one foot in front of the other.