The tall, white mountain beckons, beckons me across the years to return, calls me to climb again his steep, rocky face by the trail beside the stream. The stream of cold, cold water that rushes down the mountain much faster than I will ascend the mountain, rushes by with a gurgle, a gurgle as if laughing at my slow, halting progress. Progress marked by lungs gasping for air, legs burning for respite from the never-ending climb up, up, up, up, always up, and then down, but down only for a taunting, fleeting moment as the trail dips between huge boulders before finding its updraft again, and like an eagle soaring and circling upward the trail winds through the forest of pine trees and among more boulders, mountainous boulders billions of ages old, and solid. Solid like my determination not to let this mountain defeat me and crush my spirit. Crush my spirit? No, not this mountain. This mountain cannot crush my spirit. My birth came on this mountain, this Grand Father, my Grand Father. My spirit lives on this mountain. I gave my spirit to this mountain as much as this mountain took it and holds it for me as my promise that I will return, and I will come back to reclaim my spirit and return my spirit to this mountain for eternity, for soon will come the last time I climb this mountain, my Grand Father of Earth, this Grand Father of my yearning to return, my youth.
My youth is here, and I have not climbed this mountain since I was a young man and ran its height and laughed as I turned at the bottom of his majestic rise and ran the trail again, and ascended the tower that steeples this chapel of God’s created glory. Glory that envelopes me in wonder and awe still, as it did when I was yet a young man and breathed in the pine and the evergreen and the damp earth and the ages, and felt the rain falling softly through the canopy of pine trees that grow tall to reach the sustenance of the nourishing sun. The sun that nourishes but cannot nourish me, or the trees, or the mountain for eternity for we all must die, ground down by time. Time that seemed eternal when I climbed him then, time that will reclaim me, but not until I once more reach the top of my mountain, my Grand Father.
My mountain, my friend, my Grand Father, my beckoning, my youth. My gray temples will pause in the temple of gray boulders that is my Grand Father’s cathedral and I will give thanks that he has been my steadfast friend for all the years between my youth and my age, that he has not forgotten me even among the thousands who have climbed him in the years between his youth and my youth and our gray. For ages he will hold my spirit, and my ashes, for I will someday mingle with the soil that is my Grand Father and I will spend eternity in the graceful presence and comfort of my Grand Father’s streams and woods and boulders. Soon, I will make my last ascent of my Grand Father’s ancient flanks, and I do not care if ever I descend.