I drove slowly up into the mountain range of Great Basin National Park, drawn by the beauty and majesty of Wheeler Peak. My tires made soft scrunching sounds on the snow covered road which lay pristine and glistening before me in the afternoon sun, undisturbed by anything other than the wildlife that lived here. Although the park is open all year round, not many travelled beyond the Lehman Caves in the winter. Even so, one could only go so far into the range approaching Wheeler Peak. Signs were posted to warn that the road ahead would be closed to any traffic beyond that point. The steeper switchbacks higher up would be very treacherous and dangerous in the winter months. I knew I had a few miles left of the gently sloping drive before I would have to turn around. With an Enya CD playing softly and the window down a few inches to the chill mountain air, I tried to relax into the peace and beauty of the land around me.
I had travelled 75 miles this day from my small town of Ely, Nevada, in a desperate attempt to find something that would ease the pain of my soul. I felt so crushed by a series of life changes that were occurring in my life. I was losing my marriage, my home, and at times it seemed, even my mind. I knew I had to accept this and to go forward, no matter the degree of difficulty. In order to do so, I needed to renew my spirit and fill it with hope and faith to carry me through. Change, even when necessary, can be quite frightening and disheartening. I had to consciously choose the directions of my thoughts. I needed help on this day and knew that if I could find and see the wonder of life outside of myself, I could then see and feel the light of God in me too and stand. It was to this end that I got into the car and went to find reasons to hope and believe again. I knew it had to be something big to pull me out of the darkness that filled me. The greatest external wonder that I knew I could get to, was Mt. Wheeler.
I had been there several times in the warmer months and enjoyed the vistas the drive alone offered but I could not find such joy today. As I crept slowly up the current incline, the landscape around me seemed desolate and empty. The light covering of snow on the high desert was lifted and swirled at times like tiny tornados when the wind gusted past. It looked like I felt, barren and helpless against the elements. This wasn’t helping me to feel any better. To make matters worse, the sky become overcast and the sun seem to struggle as I was, to break through the cloud cover. I became anxious to reach the next turn about so that I could go back home.
The sun suddenly broke through and brilliantly lit the world all around me, crashing through my own darkness. I had to stop the car as my eyes adjusted to the snow which now sparkled like millions of diamonds scattered and shimmering all around me. The air stirred with the sound of life. I looked to the left and saw a mule deer walking nearby. The doe stopped and stood still, watching me. I caught my breath. Time ceased to exist. The moment became a full reality of its own in my mind and heart; here and now with nothing of the past and its pain or of the future and fears to torment me. The mountain in the distance seemed to glow. Shadows of pine were highlighted as their branches peaked with raised heads to the heavens. The natural stone carved heart filled with snow on Mt. Wheeler, seemed to throb and I felt… love and life stir in me again. Everything around and within me seemed to pulse with life and beauty, filling my spirit to overflowing. I realized that my face was wet with tears and my breath shuddered when I released it. The deer seemed to cant her head, having heard my sigh. The near angelic voice and music of Enya which had been playing all along, reached my consciousness and broke the spell. I gently nudged the car forward, fearing that my new friend would run away. To my surprise, she began walking slowly along with me, seeming to follow me and the music. She kept her course parallel to mine until the road ended in a turn around against a closed gate. Lifting her head and giving it a bob as if saying goodbye, she flicked her tail and turned to leap away. I watched until she was out of sight. I wondered how long she may have been following me before God released the sun to catch my attention and lift me out of myself! With a prayer of gratitude and a smile on my face and in my heart, I turned the car around and headed back home.
Sometimes we get so lost in our darkness that it takes wonders such as this to break through. I found more that day on my journey than I could have ever imagined. Yes, my spirit was renewed by what I saw and felt, and I was given even more than I had asked for. This has been one of many such memories that I have used to keep my hope and faith alive through even the most difficult and painful times of my life. One of the greatest lessons to learn in enjoying the journey of life is to look closely and find that we all have treasures that we can see and feel whenever we choose to. The trick is… you must choose wisely. Open your arms in action, your mind in awareness, and your heart to wonder. Do so and such treasures will find you!
I am posting with this a sketch I made of what I saw. Though the drawing is now old and faded, I hope that you can experience through this picture and my story, some of what I did on that most wonderful and precious day!
What are some of the moments in your life that have lifted, encouraged, and/or inspired you?
Here is a link to get you started if you are interested in finding out more about:
Wheeler Peak, Great Basin National Park, Nevada http://bit.ly/HIIKaA
The additional picture is photographic proof that there is indeed a heart on the mountain! I was further into the foothills that you can see here, and much closer to the heart of the mountain on that snowy winter’s day.