“Every valley shall be lifted up and every mountain brought low.”
The singer songwriter Melody Gardot had a terrible bicycle accident that kept her in a hospital for 18 months. While riding her bike in Philadelphia in November 2003, she was hit by an SUV that ran a red light. She suffered head and spinal injuries, and her pelvis was broken in two places. She was confined to a hospital bed for twelve of those eighteen months, and had to remain lying on her back. She had to re-learn simple tasks, such as brushing her teeth and walking. She was left oversensitive to light and sound, requiring her to wear sunglasses most of the time. Gardot suffered short-term and long-term memory loss and had difficulty with her sense of time. She described her ordeal as “like climbing Mt. Everest every day.” She is back and has just put out a new album, appropriately titled, ‘The Absence.” Not every story of Everest has such a good ending but enough do that the climbers keep climbing.
It helps the climber to know that there are others who have climbed. I think of Edith Wharton’s character, Mrs. Manstey, who lived alone for 18 years, watching the seasons change outside her Manhattan window. Then the landlady built an extension, barring the small view that she had enjoyed. She died the next day. What an accomplishment to have found a small view to enjoy on a daily basis. She climbed a little Everest every day.
I remember listening to “Climb Every Mountain” over and over and over again because it gives such hope to the listener. The lyrics seem to capture your heart, mind and soul by giving you the courage to follow your dreams… climb all those difficult mountains before us – no matter what they really are. And we all know there are times when we need that kind of courage. The words could be used as a prayer in times of distress:
Climb every mountain,
Search high and low,
Follow every highway,
Every path you know.
A dream that will need
All the love you can give,
Every day of your life
For as long as you live.
Climb every mountain,
Ford every stream,
Follow every rainbow,
Till you find your dream.
I think of people who no longer have their minds due to dementia – or those who have to take care of them, long after they have run out of money or care. My own dad and his wife are perfect examples of that kind of mountain.
There are also people who live for years with diseases they know are progressive. Some days they even smile. I think of men in prison (one I heard of years ago for stealing a loaf of bread), or parents deported because legislators can’t resolve laws. I don’t know that all of their stories have “good endings” or even decent endings. I do know that enough do make the difficult climb that we can pray “Climb Every Mountain” and mean our prayer when we pray it.
Dear Lord, there are so many different mountains we face every day of our lives. I remember Elvis singing a song with the lyrics: “Lord, this time you gave me a mountain… a mountain I may never climb.” But we know Lord, the mountains before can be climbed with you as our guide. Help us to reach the peak and experience coming out of the clouds to see the brightness of your loving presence. In and though Jesus. Amen.
Grace and Peace