The mountain and me

(The view from much farther north of the South Sound)
I think the best thing about working in the South Sound is the day it clears out after an extended rainy or overcast period, is looking out of my window and seeing “the mountain”, seemingly floating in the sky about a lower layer of clouds and fog.

I just find it extremely comforting to live in a place where we affectionately refer to one mountain as “the mountain” eclipsing all of the rest. The Puget Sound is ringed by mountains – the Cascades, the Olympics, but only Mt. Rainier can claim the title of “the mountain.” It is like Kilimanjaro in Tanzania (to poor Mount Meru’s chagrin) or Fiji in Japan. Interestingly enough, those mountains are sleeping volcanoes as well. Perhaps it is their sleeping danger that inspires such respect, as if uttering their name will awaken them in their fury.

The mountain scares and intimidates me but awes me as well. I can’t keep my eyes off of it. My window view of it distracts me from my piles of family law pleadings on my desk. I fear that if I take my eyes off of it, that the mountain will somehow change shape, that when my gaze returns it will have disappeared behind another wall of clouds or it will be spouting clouds of steam and ash sealing the doom of Western Washington.

I look at it and remember the words of Isaiah in the Old Testament, “Let us go now up unto the mountain of the Lord…” and remember the sacredness of “the mountain” whatever that mountain may be in various countries around the world. In Tibet, Buddhists and Hindus take sacred pilgrimages to Mount Kailas, in my own faith Brigham Young had a prophetic vision of establishing the church in the mountains of Salt Lake City. What is it inherent in mountains that demand that our vision not only be thrust upward but that in doing so that we must commune with the divine?

I am a girl born at sea level, who fears looking down from lofty peaks, for fear of falling down. I generally find solace and comfort in water, that which is familiar to me, but something about the mountain outside of my window, the same mountain that could threaten my existence at any given moment, allows me to feel less a stranger here. Both the mountain’s unpredictabilty and its abiding sacredness makes me feel at home.

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