When I sat to write this week, all I could think of was the Journey I took some years back wherein I climbed Mount Sinai. All I could see in front of my eyes was the view from the top of that Mountain…and for whatever reason, I just knew I had to dig around in my old journals — from 2011 no less! — to find this for you today. And I am not entirely sure why.
Maybe it’s as simple as one of you pondering that you, too, might like to travel to Egypt.
Or maybe it’s because my sister and I are plotting our next trip to the U.K. for our partners’ 50th birthdays and I have travel on my brain.
Or maybe it’s because I’m immersed in co-writing and designing three websites this month, and each of our clients are journeying into the most profound places as a result.
Maybe it’s because it’s just a really great story, meant to be shared as we approach the final days of this season. A story meant to be pondered as we pause and reflect in the ways that we do before we stand again and Journey forth once more.
Whatever the reason, I found this article for you today. And I hope it strikes a chord within you, as Stories From The Road so often do.
Let me just start by saying that I am not even really certain the exact day that I decided I was going to climb Mount Sinai. It was one of those dreams that was tucked away in my heart, you might say, and it was awakened when I read Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist. After reading that book, I had a series of monumental “a-ha” moments – moments that would change my life forever. Within days of finishing the book, I was given the opportunity to travel to Egypt and my heart virtually leapt from my chest and I heard myself say, “Well, I must climb Mount Sinai while I am there!” Later, I realized that my heart was simply waiting for the right moment to make its desire known to me, and I am forever grateful that it did so!
There was a catch, however. A big catch. While Mount Sinai is not a “huge” Mountain, it does take several hours to climb. And the catch? Well, at this particular time in my life, I couldn’t walk more than 20 minutes without being in pain as a result of injuries I sustained in a car accident. If I had a hard time walking to Tim Horton’s for tea, how was I going to climb a Mountain?
Lesson One: No point worrying about things until they are directly in front of you.
Fast-forward nine months. Suddenly, it was time to worry about it as the very next day, a tour guide was going to be picking me up from my posh hotel on the Red Sea and transporting me miles inland (and miles “upwards”) to the place where I, alongside hundreds of other Pilgrims, would begin my trek. So here’s what I did: I asked the guide to pick me up early – most people begin their climb around 2 am as the goal is to make it to the summit for the sunrise. I figured I needed a little more time than most. I started my climb at 10 pm. The second thing I did was enlist the help of my guide – he carried my pack filled with my supplies. And the third thing I did was tuck a homeopathic remedy, Arnica Montana, into my pocket so I could use it frequently to reduce my pain along the way.
Lesson Two: Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. Enlist the help of others to get you where you need to go in the way you need to get there.
Now I have a big confession to make. I was tired before we even began the climb! There I was, panting and sweating along behind my guide (who spoke very little English and didn’t really understand as I tried to joke about being out of shape), and I actually asked him, “How much further?” Turns out, we weren’t even at the starting point yet! This was just the foothills! My lungs burned, my heart was pounding, and my arm was on fire. So what did I do? I sat down and cried.
Lesson Three: Take a break when you need it. You never know what you might see or learn as you sit and take a break.
No doubt you expected me to say that I just “soldiered on,” that I “bore the pain in strong silence.” Well, not so much, really. I whined, I complained, I even pleaded with God several times. But all the while, I kept putting one foot in front of the other. And that’s how I climbed that Mountain – one foot in front of the other, stopping to rest every 15-20 minutes, laying down in the middle of a field of camels, watching as my guide and his friends smoked together, waving and smiling as the other Pilgrims passed me on the path. I found my rhythm, a pattern in my pain, and I embraced the opportunities that presented themselves to me as I stopped to rest. I enjoyed the rests. It gave me pleasure to rest. And I enjoyed the feeling of getting back up and moving forward again.
Lesson Four: All Journeys are completed the same way – by putting one foot in front of the other.
I am proud to say I reached the summit of Mount Sinai – just in time for the sunrise. My guide set me up with a blanket and mattress, and I tucked myself into a crevice and wept as the sun came up over the horizon. Within moments, the silence around me was filled with the songs of many faiths, for the Pilgrimage up Mount Sinai is considered a Holy Journey by (almost) all religions. Some sang, some chanted, some recited from their Holy Books, and others, like me, just cried. And in that moment, that joyous moment, we shared in the success of our climb, our own personal Journey that had brought us where millions have gone before. We witnessed the sun rising together atop a sacred Mountain, and we will, none of us, ever be the same again.
Lesson Five: We are all alike. Religious doctrines aside, we all climb Mountains on our own personal Journeys. We all face difficulties, we all stop to rest, we all climb our Mountains by putting one foot in front of the other.
When I returned from Egypt, my father met me at the airport. On the way home he asked me what I had learned on Mount Sinai. He was disappointed, I know, that I did not scribe my lessons on a tablet, that God did not “speak” to me as he had to Moses. The thing is, though, stone tablets and burning bushes aside, I did receive messages from a Divine Source on that Journey up Mount Sinai. I learned lessons from me, from myself, about what it is to follow my heart’s desire despite all odds, and to rejoice in my Journey as I put one foot in front of the other.