Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Volcanic Ascent As Metaphor

Over the past two days, I've hiked to the tops of two volcanoes (extinct): Tetilla Peak and Otowi Peak. The views from the top of these peaks were spectacular, as they rose high above their surrounding New Mexico desert. I could see three mountain ranges: Sangre de Cristo, Jemez and Manzano.

Hiking up a volcano is an unusual experience. From a distance a volcano looks gentle and not too challenging. Up close is a difference experience. First, volcanoes are very steep in places, especially toward the top. Secondly, volcanic rocks are rugged and sharp, making for a somewhat chaotic scramble over them. In steep places, you have to use hands and feet to make your assent.

As I ascended Otowi Peak this morning, I thought about how hiking a volcano can be a metaphor for life. Often, what looks easy from a distance is very difficult up close. There are many things that fall into this category: learning a new skill, playing a sport, and deepening one's spirituality.

Just like ascending a steep volcanic slope, it takes determination and perseverance to do something you haven't done before. These same qualities are important in spirituality. Few things in life come easy, especially the important things like love, gratitude and joy. These things take practice and effort to cultivate, but are definitely worth the effort.

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