I also drove up Pike’s Peak, which, with an elevation of 14,110 feet, was a tough haul in my little rented Nissan. A sign said that with every 1,000 feet of elevation, the temperature drops 3 degrees. That would mean the temperature at the top was 58 degrees yesterday. Add a wild wind at that elevation and it made for one chilly trip, especially after the mid-80’s temperature 8,000 feet below! I’ll post some pictures later, but when you get up above 11,000 feet you are above the tree line and the entire landscape takes on a bit of a Lord of the Rings feel - rocks, red sand, moss, and not much else.
Beyond a simple sense of wonder in this landscape, you begin to feel with your heart, not just see with your eyes, that there is a greater mystery calling out, an acknowledgement that there is a greater purpose to our typical 9 to 5 lives; that we are part of a greater journey which is crying to us if we can only take the time to hear it. Before he was a believer, C.S. Lewis referred to this calling as “the North” – an otherworldly term related to Nordic mythology. John Eldredge would likely refer to it as the Sacred Romance. Others might refer to it as a Haunting. Whatever terminology you wish to use, there is a sense that God himself is calling you to something bigger, to a larger battle that we can acknowledge with our minds but only have a small sense of in our hearts. In that wilderness, the surface of this life is stripped back just a little to reveal the “hills full of horses and chariots of fire” that Elisha’s servant saw.
As Lewis said, there are no mere mortals. Like it or not, we are all a part of the battle and must choose to fight or to stay back in camp. I’m not entirely sure what that looks like in 2004, but I do know that all of the great tales – Narnia and Middle Earth among them – point us in the right direction. As a Christian, I serve a King and He needs me on the front lines, not back in camp where it is comfortable and secure.
As I said, I’m not sure how this plays out today, and specifically what it looks like in my own life, but I do know that when I see the King face to face, I want to have scars on my hands and dirt on my clothes from having fought with all my strength.