This past week, I hiked with two other folks to Chimney Rock, from Ghost Ranch, NM in the desert north of Santa Fe. It was late afternoon, and as we walked, we moved from sun-sparked paths to shadowy places where the ground was covered with a layer of snow and ice, the dark side of the mountain that does not see the sun.
From time to time, we stopped to drink water at this altitude – over 6,000 feet – to stay hydrated and to chat about our rising view. It’s funny how close things look, and how far you have to hike to make it to the top. I didn’t know my companions well; we told stories about our lives as we walked. It’s good to have good companions on the journey.
Near the top, I stopped to take the picture that accompanies this post. I have an eye for seeing things that don’t seem to go together, but do go together. I suppose that’s also useful in life, because sometimes the strangest things actually work together! Still, when I stopped to take this photo, I couldn’t see what I was trying to capture, with the sun reflecting on the lens.
Even so, here it is!
In the background, you see Chimney Rock, the object of our afternoon hike. In the foreground, you see the tree that has suffered from several years of drought in these Western States.
These days, I often reflect on how a long journey has led to this place in life, and how, as often as life has seemed a struggle, the journey has led me back to the place where I began: my true self, my true being, me being myself, all the while struggling to be myself.
It’s true for all of us. What we present to the world is often such a brittle piece of ourselves, a dried-out self, trying too hard to be good, to be nice, to fit in, to be what we think is expected of us. Or we present a fearful self, exposed to the elements from the time we were young, pushed into a shape that does not suit us, a shape that is in the minds of others, but isn’t who we really are. We think we are our accomplishments, or our goodness, or our strongly held beliefs or preoccupations.
We are so much more. We are so much more real. We are so much bigger and stronger and full of beauty and strength and glory. We’re made of so much more, more power and light.
All the while we are offering our smaller selves, our larger self – our True Self – is there, all the time, shaped by larger things, by wind and rain and experience and light, the goal that is not the goal, the One, the Only One, the one we are seeking and cannot seek, the One who shapes us, the One we have always been.