One was fear.
I don’t like heights, never have. I have tried to combat this fear by logic and even mountain climbing and rappelling with and without ropes, without much improvement. The actual hike was great because there were no steep cliffs. It was mostly the drive on the VERY narrow road that had almost no guard-railing and then the military trucks careening down the other lane without much regard for staying in their lane…all of which did not dissipate my fears.
Needless to say the seat may have permanent marks from my grip and my Heavenly Father was probably rolling his eyes at my near constant prayer for safety. But, once again we lived through it and I was flooded by a feeling of gratitude for our safe climb and descent.
Two was Team Spirit.
I really love those experiences when, despite struggle and hardship your family sticks together, remains in good spirits and reaches a goal together.
The climb to the actual sanctuary would have taken my husband and I probably 30 minutes each way if we were to go straight through without stopping. The terrain is not too difficult, but lots and lots of stairs and it has very little pathway that is not inclined.
With our kids it took 2 hours. I was carrying our 2 ½ month old daughter. My husband had our 2 ½ year old daughter, of whom he carried most of the way up and down (about 4 hours in total). Our 7 year old son and 4 year old daughter switched back and forth between Mom and Dad and exploring ahead and behind of us.I felt very blessed that everyone stayed in such a good mood and kept working together to reach our goal.
It felt like life. Sometimes one or another in the family needs a little more help, or a little more patience, or a little bit of encouragement. At times like these, we can either see it as a hindrance to our own progress or as a way for us to grow and learn. In the end we even help ourselves because ultimately aren’t we all trying for the same goal? Don’t we want our family to be with us forever? We can’t do it alone and we’re not meant too. God planned life to be made of families. He knew that we would not only need the help but also helping another makes us a little closer to our goal of living with and being like Him.
Three was Mountains.
Once we had accomplished the goal of seeing the monarchs the descent seemed much easier and faster. Now the conversation switched from encouragement and motivationI, to reflection.Our family started chatting about the beauty we were seeing and what we were feeling.
We reflected on the peace and calm we felt in this beautifully forested mountain. About why we thought the butterflies would want to go there. It always amazes me of how much children understand spiritual experiences. They may not be able to fully explain it but they know when they are happy and calm and peaceful and they know that those feelings come from God.
It was a wonderful time to help them realize that nature holds a special spiritual power. To point out to them that even ancient prophets such as Moses and Isaiah were called into the mountains to speak with God. Even Jesus himself went to the mountain to talk with His Father in Heaven. Mountains and the surrounding nature help us feel closer to our Maker because we share the same Maker.
The butterflies were beautiful, amazing and truly a marvel to behold. It was also fascinating and rewarding to see how much our children had learned in our study beforehand and marvel at the connections and discoveries they made as we hiked, both in the mind and in the heart. But I think more than anything I was grateful that our family grew and learned …together!