Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Decades of a Grand Effort

A Last Hurrah

for decades I have been called,
and I have responded, fully,
to the opening of an opportunity,
6000+ feet high up on the mountain,
a place deep inside the national park,
where all have to pay a price of hiking hard to get there,
using young and old muscles, and will,
to gain thousands of feet of elevation,
with tens of thousands of hard-worn steps,
most of us carrying a pack so that we have
—a change (or three) of clothes,
—a flashlight,
—food and treats,

along the mile-long summit,
the mountain falls off to the west,
so that we can be there for sunset,
the mountain falls off to the east,
so that we can be there for sunrise,

my mother would stand in line in the fall
and get us reservations at Mt. LeConte Lodge,
for close family, then close friends,
the powers-that-be helped us keep them from year to year,
by letting us repeat our stay
the same Saturday each summer:
42 spots, out of the 60 or so available,

like just being alive, 
I felt a sacred charge to use our time well,
to view our comfortable stay at the top 
of the fourth highest mountain east of the Rockies,
as a privilege,
any who blithely discarded their opening to the experience,
not invited back,
any who chose to not consider the effort 
to go to sunrise and sunset as worth their time,
not invited back, usually,
any who chose to be only with the closest of their tribe,
not invited back, usually,

for, to me, LeConte is all about openness,
openness to the effort, to the rock, 
to the flora, to the fauna, to the sky,
to the other, whether in person or in nature,

I sought those open to the best within their selves,
the parts within that need to be eldered
by that which is wild,
by that which is beautiful,
by that which can help us grow up
to not be the whiny child within,
but instead to be the child who comes unto glory,
into the kingdom that is heaven,

my time of pulling off this grand experience is over,
I have retired from the coordination, the logistics, the cooking,
from waking folks up at 5:00 a.m. with Nancy Griffith’s
“The finest hour I have seen, is the one that comes between,
the edge of night, and the break of day,
that’s when the darkness rolls away. . .”
or, for humor, the “little birdie” song,
or some variation of “On top of Ole Smoky,”
I have retired from singing “Morning has broken” at sunrise, to the group,
and reciting Native American prayers of sunrise and sunset to lead others,

as I walked back form sunrise this August,
I paused along the ridge-line
and lovingly touched an ancient balsam fir,
appreciating the beauty in its endurance,
the whole of which it is a part,
and that we are, too,

I saw a deer browsing near the Lodge,
and I sang to it with 
“praise for the morning, praise for the singing,
praise for them springing fresh from the Word,”

I hope through my last breath
to praise “God’s recreation of the new day.”

by Henry H. Walker
August 6, ‘19

1 comment:

Cynthia Jeffries said...

You have captured and perserved the experience perfectly. It will live on in my memory much the way you have descrbed it. I am honored to have been a part of it for so many years. As we pass on our spaces to the next generation I hope that the Mountain will touch their hearts and heal their spirits as it has mine. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of it!