Two days after landing a full-time job (after 7 months with little or no work), I thought it worthwhile to revisit the book on which I've been working, more or less, since last summer. It's far from complete, which brings forth the concern that, distracted as I'll be with a new job and two kids, I won't finish it. With God's help, I will one day complete it even if it never gets published.
For those of you who haven't read my previous 'previews' of the novel, it basically deals with one man's search for salvation. He's looking for it in one place, but is being led in another. Many of his experiences along this journey are quite intense, even when it's just observing nature, as in this scene.
Disappointed, I dropped the bottle to the ground between my thighs and turned to contemplate the scene before me. The thought that George would soon return with more water consoled me.I allowed myself, then, to fully enjoy the sight that met my eyes.
A thin layer of trees partially obscured my view, but the sparseness of the trees there lent little obstruction to my vision.No more than twenty feet from the opposite edge of the path, the trees ended and crisp, clean air began as we drew closer and closer to the cliff’s edge.The smog I had continually inhaled as a child did not exist in these here parts and so haze did not limit visibility.Instead, clear blue skies parted some distance in front of me to reveal another mountain, presumably much like the one I currently trekked through.
Distances with objects so large are notoriously difficult to judge, so while it almost seemed close enough to touch if I just stretched out far enough, it might have jutted from its earthly origin miles apart from its neighbor, whom I currently visited.Lush greenery decorated its surface that I could only presume to be treetops, for it looked almost like grass had molded itself to all the ridges, nooks, and crannies of the behemoth before me.Though the branches and leaves of the trees directly in front of me prevented me from espying the pinnacle of the mountain in front of me, it appeared to reach to the heavens, pushing past whatever clouds draped themselves over the noon-day sky to see what lay beyond the ceiling of this world.My heart trembled in what seemed like fear, for compared to this mighty work, I felt miniscule, a tiny speck on the face of the earth that might be crushed by the majesty of creation surrounding me.The intense sensations, bordering on awe, caused by the sight of the neighboring mountain made me quickly turn my head for fear that the emotions might build up to such an extent that I might burst with the pressure.
When I shifted my gaze leftward, though, I received no relief from the wonder.Through the large gaps in the foliage, I caught a glimpse of additional mountains in the distance, with peaks that almost sharpened to points had I but been able to see them through the soft, fluffy clouds of white that ringed their topmost parts.Just below the level of the clouds, it seemed as if spots of white, distinct from the clouds themselves, dotted the surface of the massive constructs.I gasped at what that white might be, for to retain snow at this latitude, these mountains must indeed stretch to the very limits of the sky.
A shiver ran through me and I closed my eyes to halt the flow of sensations that raged through my brain.For a man who had grown up in a metal and concrete jungle, the wonders I beheld left me awestruck.I had grown up in the shadow of the Manhattan skyline, a work created by the hands of men that had inspired many to great works of art and to great achievement in various realms important in the world I left.With others, newly come to the land, it filled them with hope, a chance at a new beginning and a life of prosperity and freedom beyond their wildest imaginations.When I had first seen the sight as an adult, I beheld it in a sort of wonder, impressed with the power of men to achieve great things.
Yet, in the shadow of this very different skyline, the wonders of Manhattan seemed pale and weak, a passing glory that could be altered by one stroke of an insane man bent on destruction.While my former life taught me not to think of the fragility of man’s creations, but on his ability to rebuild anything that had been destroyed, I could not help but think of the frailty of man beside the nature he so wantonly shaped to his own desire.Even as I scaled one of the mountains I so marveled at, I could not look with pride on my achievement, but with fear and trembling that I, little man that I am, had been granted the strength of limb to make the attempt at all.Gratitude filled me that the mountain itself did not try to crush me under its massive girth, and that one had been sent to me, George, who enabled me to endure its rigorous environs.Without him, I would be but another, like Donald Bray, who thought to conquer nature, but had been conquered by it instead; one whose temporal nature had proven relentlessly true in the face of the unyielding natural world.
Intense emotions welled up in my heart, even while I kept my eyes closed to prevent new sensations from breaking through the boundaries of my mind.I longed to cry out, to speak of the wonders of this world, and how I, a mere man, had been granted access to all the glories it held.But, I knew not what to say, nor to whom to say it.Would this mountain on which I stood acknowledge my calls, or the trees bend their tops in a nod to say, ‘yes, we heard you’? The cries I wished to unleash in my profound gratitude for this world, my place in it, and my very life itself stuck in my throat for lack of a target toward which to direct my calls.
Even the one thing I might meaningfully shout out, “Nature, I am awed by thee and wish to know thee more fully,” felt inadequate beside the sensations that raged through my mind and heart.Though that call had more or less guided my scientific endeavors to date, it seemed insufficient to capture the depth of what I experienced, as if this world itself did not deserve my praise, but something else to which it was beholden.That made little sense to me, for to whom could the world be in debt, except the accident by which it had been created.I shook my head, disturbed by these thoughts.
Somehow, though, I needed to release these emotions.I opened my mouth to release a primal scream to relieve some of the pressure that had built up within me, but a different sort of scream ripped through the air even as I readied my vocal cords to create the howl I longed to emit.High-pitched and very distressed, it sent a shiver up my spine.I bounded to my feet, the heaviness in my legs forgotten amid the urgency of the scream.