Mission Peak

Yesterday, Viola, my daughter, and I and several friends took a hike on Mission Peak. I kept hearing about the symbolic importance of this hike especially if you live around the Fremont area. It is not only that the hike is notoriously difficult because you must climb 2,500 feet in just three miles that makes it very popular but also because of its view from the top of the peak that overlooks the entire Fremont area that will take your breath away.  Some friends who have done the climb before said that on the way to the peak there’s not much vegetation, so it is better to avoid the heat of the day because the sun can hit you badly and you could get exhausted faster before even reaching the middle trail. The best is either I go before sunrise or sunset to add the awe factor of the whole adventure. I chose the first one. 

I reached the trailhead at 4 AM in the morning and started to walk right then. As cautioned, the hike was tough. Right in the beginning, the trail goes up and continues to incline steadily with only a few flat areas where I could rest. And as you can imagine, I could feel the stretch and the tension in the lower part of my body: on my thigh, knee, foot. I thought to myself, what have I gotten myself into?? A friend warned me beforehand that Mission Peak is a gnarly butt buster. That early morning I found out that wasn’t a joke! 

Let me tell you, walking in the dark early morning with friends and my daughter was a joy. Our surroundings were pitch black but we had no trouble walking because above us the moon and the stars were shining bright. A rare sight for us who live in the city most of the time who are so addicted to our artificial lighting. The air was cool and crisp and the walking got heavier as we went up but my heart was at peace. As we walked, we talked about our daily life, our struggles, church, and life in general. We giggled and groaned listening to each other stories and occasionally we stopped to calm our breath and took the time to enjoy the sky or to preserve the memories with our cellphone camera. We even commented that when we journey with friends, the burdens are shared among us. Therefore we won’t feel the sharp bite of the pain of the journey as much as we journey this life alone. 

The last quarter mile toward the peak, the climb became harder and more treacherous. You really have to look for a safe path to support your body otherwise your foot would slip from the gravelly ground. After about two hours climb from the trail head, we finally reached the peak. Thank God for the basketball training I’ve been getting from Varen, my nine-year-old son, every day, helping me get this endurance to tackle the peak. My body was drenched in sweat and my legs were burning but all the exhaustion disappeared in an instant as I was approaching the peak. The view was spectacular. I cannot describe it with words. The dance of the sky color as the moon was saying goodbye to the sun to go to bed that morning and as the sun took the center place of the stage of the universe with all its splendor. Gorgeous! 

The words of the psalmist in Psalm 121 came to mind and as I watched the scene before me, I recited in my heart: 

“I lift up my eyes to the hills—from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be slipped and He who keeps you will not slumber. He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your coming and going from this time on and forevermore.” 

The tears came down my face. Over and over again I was reminded of God’s faithfulness to me. This time through the works of His hand. He who spreads the hills and told the sun to rise told me that morning that He is able. If He is able to create this majestic scene before me, how much more will He be able to help me through this life journey? During this unprecedented time of our lifetime, my heart often clouded by worry, doubt, and anger, and unknowingly I have spent more time being sour about my circumstances than spending more time bathing in God’s grace that is so readily available around me. Yesterday morning, my heart was full of gratefulness for everything that God has done, is, and will do for me. 

Mission Peak hike yesterday had given me a spiritual meaning. In this life, we are on a mission to reach the peak of life. The peak for us, Christians, is the Presence of God and to dwell in the House of the Lord forever. The journey is long and the road is treacherous and steep but the reward is great. And we certainly don’t have to travel this road alone. There’s always a travel companion, a friend who has the same vision to reach the goal to share the road together.  

Friends, when you are feeling down, take a friend or two, go to nature, and see God’s handiwork. Witness it for yourself that God is able to do anything. He is able to create a beautiful creation out of the ashes of our life. Yes,  nothing is impossible for Him and for those who believe. 

Love and prayers, 

Vincent Arishvara 07102020