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Topic: Mountains (09/20/04)
TITLE: Teh Swiss Alps
By Rachel Rossano
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Included on this tour was a stop on the top of Pilates, a mountain near Luzern Switzerland. I have not always been afraid of heights, but as I grow older, I become steadily aware of an aversion to high perches and escalators. I thought nothing of it until we got out of the train that we had ridden to the top of this mountain. I avoided the railed look out points insisting I could see just fine from my spot four feet from the edge.
There were two trails available to walk around the highest peak. I persuaded my husband to take the one that went inside the mountain. There I felt fine. Secure behind solid rock, I could look down at the steep mountainside below from the hollowed out gaps in the wall. Unfortunately for me, the trail did not continue forever inside the embrace of stone. When it suddenly opened up onto metal grid platforms and stairs suspended over a sheer drop, I found I could go no further.
My heart raced and my knees went wobbly; I grew lightheaded and was almost sure I was going to faint. No matter how I kept telling myself that I was being ridiculous, my body rebelled at crossing that suspended metal surface above a couple thousand-foot drop. My husband even tried demonstrating that is was safe by going first. It did not help. Coward that I apparently am, I could not go more than a few feet before giving in to the overwhelming urge to sit down and hold on for dear life. After only one try, my husband escorted me back to the safety of the mountain-guarded trail.
It seemed to me that once my body had gotten a taste of this height induced panic it was addicted. On the trip back to our hotel in Germany, our hosts drove through a pass in the Swiss Alps. S-curve after curve, drop off after drop off, I found myself clinging to my husband and the car door. The sights were spectacular and now I am very thankful that I was able to see them, but at the time, I was not so sure. The road was narrow, the curves sharp, and the guard rails non-existent. Silently I prayed my way through.
This past summer, about four years after that trip to Europe, we visited Acadia National Park in Maine and drove up Cadillac Mountain. At the top, I found that I was not even the least bit nervous as we climbed out of the car and wandered about to look out at the park spread out far below us. Maybe it was because the height was so much less than in Switzerland, the road less sharp and winding, or compared to the great heights of the Swiss Alps, this was nothing.
Is it possible that God teaches us to trust Him in much the same way? By pushing us to our limits, He expands our faith by giving us His strength to get through each challenge. Each time He pushes us, we grow a little more. Before we know it some things we struggle with appear easier to overcome. Everyone struggles in our striving for holiness fighting against our sin corrupted bodies and minds. I am constantly reminded that I cannot make it on my own. Without Him, I am nothing.