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In the Whirled: High on a mountaintop

Published: Wednesday, July 16 2014 5:00 a.m. MDT

Whether the charge came from the sky or the rocks below, we lit off down the hill like dancing sparks, jumpy with fear.

If you’ve ever run down a bald-faced mountain with thunder and lighting crackling all around you, or felt your poles spark in your hands, or heard your brother say, “I’ve never been so scared in my life,” or prayed aloud to not die because you really, really want to see your husband and kids again, then you know how long those minutes felt. They were minutes I hope to never repeat.

Once the storm and the fear of death had passed over our heads, we took a moment to breathe, hug and replay our harrowing experience.

Then the thunder clapped behind us and we once again picked our way down the mountain toward the shelter of the tree line where we were greeted with more hail and our good buddies the mosquitoes.

We arrived at our car 10 hours after we began, wobbly legged and covered in mountain dust.

I won’t attempt to make this thing bigger than it was. It wasn’t Mount Everest. It didn’t require ropes and pickaxes or more than a single day of hiking.

But we stood there, the six of us, all family, marveling at what we had done. We had conquered our first 14er. We were extremely fortunate to not get injured.

Why did we climb it? Because it was there. Because we could. Because it feels good to scrape the heavens and even have a brush with death before coming to earth.

Because you go up a mountain empty-handed but come down hefting a great commandment.

You can’t live on a mountaintop unless you want to become a human lightning rod. There is no lodge at the top. But human beings, we were meant to look up. We were meant to climb up, if just for a brief moment.

We come down stronger than we went up. We carry a piece of the sky, and hopefully, a little bit of blessed light.

Tiffany Gee Lewis lives in St. Paul, Minn., and is the mother of four boys. She blogs at thetiffanywindow.wordpress.com. Her email is tiffanyelewis@gmail.com

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