To stand on top of the mountain as the sun first peaks over the distant horizon—what a glorious possibility, a noble idea, a lofty goal without which we might never have started our journey. The moment of sunrise, however, is but one brief instance on a journey that held much to be gained. There are a million things that might keep us from our destination, but the journey itself is where life is made. This is what the mountain taught me.
The trails were pitch black in the pre-pre-dawn hours and poorly marked. This was no trip up a well-lit, paved highway. This was a four-wheel drive, white knuckled, “my prayer life is hot” kind of trip. More than once we found ourselves headed the wrong way; and correcting our route wasn’t always easy or without some danger on the narrow trail. There came a point where I was losing hope that we would make it on time—or alive. In my mind, I started tallying all I had given up for what was starting to look like a failure: a few hours of sleep, a warm bed, safety.
How often do we do that in our everyday lives? When the chance of success seems like too narrow a margin, aren’t we sometimes inclined to not even try? Or we might begin, but convince ourselves the comfort or safety we are giving up is too much and abort the journey, certain that we won’t succeed.
There was no guarantee for us that we would see what we set out to see. But we did see the mountain arise to a new day, slowly and gently nudged awake by the tender mercies of the sun’s soft light. So what if we missed the moment of sunrise? We were enjoying each other’s company in the perfect quiet of the early day, noticing the color of the aspen leaves in the first warm light of day, the frost that settled in the low spots, the smell of the pines in the cold morning air. And I felt grateful and certain that every wrong turn and delay had placed me exactly where God wanted me for that specific moment so that I might see He wanted to show me.
I’m happy to say we did make it, and it was beautiful. But it was just one part in the beautiful puzzle of God’s creation experienced that morning. Even if we had missed the actual moment when the sun peeked over the horizon, the trip itself had revealed plenty and my life was richer for it.
How different would our writing, or anything else we tried, look if we viewed the things to be seen or discovered along the way as important as the final destination? How much more would we allow ourselves to accomplish if we didn’t limit our definition of success? What if success was just writing because you love to write; because you love using words to paint pictures or stir emotions? Okay, I understand that sometimes we need to pay the bills, but don’t underestimate the rewards to be received along the way. They may make us not only better writers, but better people. Don’t be afraid you’ll miss the sunrise and refuse to start. Set your course, enjoy the journey, but please go.