Hiking up Mather Pass this morning, I paused to take a rest about 3/4's of the way to the top. The scene before me was stunning. Rugged, foreboding mountain peaks surrounded me, high above treeline. Snow still packed to the sides where I assume less direct sunlight is available. What struck me most was the weather. Not a cloud in the sky, temperatures 75-80 degrees, not the slightest hint of a wind or breeze. Everything was calm and still like the desert, as if awaiting a cataclysmic event. A couple of butterflies fluttered around my head for a minute. Beautiful, fragile looking wildflowers peaked beneath rocks and crevasses. I knew I was captured in a fleeting summer's moment. The terrain all around me bore evidence of extreme trauma. How many thousands or millions of years it took to create such a scene is beyond my expertise. Again, what I did realize, was that I was seeing just a fraction, albeit a beautiful one, of the valley's personality.
How brutal are the winters year after year in this place? What's it like when whole sections of the mountainside come crumbling down into the valley? What pressures are tectonic plates applying to the land to create such beauty? How powerful and overwhelming were the glaciers that once slowly filled and moved down the valley, scraping, polishing, and depositing rocks and carving mountainsides before it eventually retreated and melted creating such pristine and beautiful lakes? What a remarkable dichotomy where such a wild and inhospitable place can still harbor beautiful summertime meadows, gentle waterfalls, wildflowers, plants, and small furry animals and insects!
Immediately it brought to mind some of my favorite kids I have worked with in the past as counselor or teacher. Some kids have this rugged, wild, and frankly frightening auras about them. Often times, mental or physical abuse from friends or family members can be the culprit. Sometimes, it may be nothing more than the traits they were born with. One thing is for sure, to enter into relationship with them, you are in for one hell of a ride. Like Mather Pass I'd imagine, the storms, or acting out episodes, are going to be intense. There will be moments when one wonders whether or not they will survive, or whether it's all even worth it.
Then, there will be days like today, tranquil and peaceful. The child will show you the most amazing displays of love or wisdom, friendship or humor, just like the rare wildflowers that peak out of the rocks, or the butterflies that joyfully play above the alpine grasses, or the gentle waterfall that sings, shines, and provides nourishment to all things around. Today, I have no complaints about seeing Mather's pleasant and peaceful side. The storms will have to be confronted by someone more courageous than I.