The Mountain

Some number of years ago, more that fifteen, and over an extended period of time, I experienced what I will call a “continuing” vision.  There were three major phases of the vision and they were separated in time.  Also, each of the three major parts came to me multiple times.  In some of the events, more than one part appeared in a single, continuous flow that served to connect the major parts.  This occurred over a period of about two or three months and involved six or eight separate occurrences of at least one of the three major portions.  I need to say that visions, when they come to me, typically last only a very brief period of objective time.  The understanding of them and their translation into something that can be communicated is much more protracted.  It is also true that sharing the vision or its major parts has resulted in increased understanding of that which was seen.  Over time, the understanding obscured the original occurrence in such a way that the actual content of the vision in the moment is not separable from the interpretation.  These disclaimers are necessary as I seek to communicate this vision with you.

As I stated, the vision consists of three major parts.  As I explain the parts, it may not be obvious they are parts of the same vision, but I assure you they are.  The first major part of the vision occurred all alone.  When it recurred at a later time it was in an abbreviated form that was a prelude to the second part.  The linkage between the two parts is not all that obvious except the mountain occurs in each part and it is to be understood that it is the same mountain even though the experience of it is very different between the two parts.  The same is true of the connection between the second and third parts.  It is the mountain that connects the parts.  Otherwise, one would conclude these were not related visions.

PHASE ONE

The first instance of the vision contained only the first major part of the vision.  On the other hand, as I recall it, it was the instance that contained the most detail and understanding of the first phase of the vision.  It was as though it lasted quite a long time and was very internally focused.  By that I mean that the understanding of the details was very deep in order to impact me with their potency.  Later occurrences of the vision that included this first segment included some other details and some updated understanding, but were not as intense or detailed over all as in the first occurrence.

I knew, without seeing it, that there was a mountain.  In fact, I knew without seeing it that it was roughly conical in shape.  Furthermore, as the vision commenced, I knew that my goal was to ascend the mountain to its summit.  More than a goal, this was the point of the whole vision – to climb to the top of the mountain.   There was no question involved.  As the vision opened I immediately understood I was to get there.

In this first part of the vision, I fully understood that I was at the bottom of the mountain east of its summit.  The position was not due east but was off to the right (north) just a bit.  That was not a limiting factor because there was a road up the mountain and I believed that the road was designed in such a way that its overall course would achieve the summit.  I had already begun the ascent as the vision began and was some way from the original point of my departure. 

The route was fairly leisurely in its climb.  There was no sense of steepness nor did I dread any steepness to come as I climbed.  Later I was to discover that there were some steep portions on the route, but they were not apparent to me at the beginning.  It should be said that I never arrived at the steeper portions of the journey for reasons that will become apparent.

The road, for so it was, was paved.  Initially, it was basically a street such as you would find in most residential neighborhoods.  It was in good repair and, at the beginning, was straight and comfortable to walk on.  The neighborhood I was in was a residential area that consisted of fairly typical housing, yards and so forth.  It was typical as to the individual houses and yards, but not typical as to the overall makeup of the neighborhood.  Many types of houses in a wide variety of colors lay along the route up the mountain.  As I walked up the road, I would often encounter two houses side-by-side that were as unlike as you could imagine.  No one of them seemed out of place.  What seemed to be wrong was the fact they would not be expected to be in the same areas.  They varied considerably in building materials, appearance, size and so forth.  None of them denoted poverty or significant affluence, but they were quite varied.

I also noted that the yards varied considerably in size.  Some were barely adequate for the house they contained and others were quite large.  Things like landscaping and fencing were also quite variable.  It was not common, but some of the yards were not fenced at all.  Others had wire fences or wooden privacy fences, or brick fences or stucco.  The yards were generally well tended.  The houses were in good repair even when they seemed to be quite old.  All in all, this was a pleasant neighborhood and I was not upset about its strange composition.

People were present in many of the yards as I made my way up the street.  They were engaged in a variety of outdoor activities.  Some were, for example, engaged in lawn care or gardening.  Some were engaged in family recreational activities.  Some were sitting on porches and visiting.  They were friendly people for the most part.  I was often greeted with at least a friendly wave that acknowledged my presence.  Only after the fact was I aware there were no attempts at conversation, on my part or on the part of any of them who saw me pass by.  They just went about whatever they were doing as the stranger moved on past them.

As I progressed in this comfortable walk, things did change.  Occasionally I began to encounter vacant lots.  The street became more of a road.  There were fewer people: still, all seemed in order.  People were still friendly, lawns were cared for and houses were in good repair.  There was a gentle upward slope to the road as I now began to perceive it; it was a bit rougher but not in bad shape. 

Obviously, as in any typical neighborhood, there were street intersections.  I came to one from time to time but continued to press onward and upward.  On a time, the street or road would turn noticeably in one direction or another.  Generally the turns were fairly gentle.  As I moved along further, the street intersections no longer occurred but the turns in the road were more noticeable; some were virtually right angle turns.  Mostly they took me in the right direction – that is toward the peak of the mountain.  I began to notice that I knew where the top of the mountain was but I could not actually see it.  So I relied on the pitch of the road and the direction of the turns to help me stay oriented toward my goal.

On a few occasions, there were intersections, not street corners but more like intersections you would encounter traveling in the country side.  Taking these typically resulted in going back through a neighborhood I had already passed but the journey back through would occur very quickly.  This occurred several times as I went along.  I thought it mildly strange that I would go back and forth between a street and a country road but I was not frustrated.

Eventually I noticed that I was no longer seeing people or even houses.  I was on a country road that continued to move generally toward my goal the best I could tell.  At one point I made a sharp turn to the south and assumed this change in the route would come around in such a way as to straighten my path to the top of the mountain.  Before too long I made another sharp turn, this time to the west and I felt this was really getting me toward my goal.  As I proceeded toward the west and my goal, as I thought, the road began to get noticeably steeper.  I did not tire more but was excited to feel real progress.  At some point I came to a clearer place and could see a shoulder of the mountain to the south off to my left.  This section looked fairly rugged and more like a mountain at high altitude.  My immediate excitement was tempered by the fact that I still couldn’t see the summit; but I knew about where it was now. 

I began to seek a way to get over to the shoulder of the mountain but I could not find one.  The effort to find such a path caused a recycle of several of the various parts of the trip up.  Finally, I concluded that I would not arrive at the top of the mountain on this road, which was still too far north.  Furthermore, it began to occur to me that, even though I continued to walk at a good pace, I was no longer making any progress at all.

As the vision ended, I was not very frustrated.  I realized I had been assigned the goal but that the path would not get me to the goal – it could not.  It was not really recursive but it might as well have been.  After a certain point, there was simply no way forward.  There was only repetitive toil after that point.  The vision simply ended.  It was over.  On a few occasions I remembered the vision and wondered at its meaning but put no particular effort into interpretation.  I felt no motivation to understand it beyond the superficial level of meaning I just shared with you.  I’m no longer sure but I think parts of the vision came again at later times with no further resolution as to the purpose.

PHASE TWO

Some weeks after the first occurrence of the vision, it returned in a great deal of its detail.  The single real difference was that at some point, I realized I would have to attempt the ascent in some other manner.  At that point, I was no longer on the road.  I now found myself at an entirely different point on the periphery of the mountain.  I was now due north of the mountain, but at its foot.  I was simply “translated” to that location with no sense of time or change in position.

From this northern position, this looked like an entirely different mountain.  Where before it had been pleasantly wooded and civilization was present, here there were virtually no trees and no people at all.  There was evidence that people were here from time to time but none were present when I arrived there.  This side of the mountain was very green.  It was obvious that a lot of rain fell here.  It was not that the east side was sere; it was not, being well watered.  But here in the north, what I saw was large areas of very green grass about ankle-high.  The grass might have been tended but not with the regularity of a home lawn.  There was no landscaping.  There were only fairly large areas of grass.  The mountain seemed closer and steeper than it had from the east.  The rare occurrence of trees seemed to account for that.  I did notice that the top of the mountain was hidden in clouds, probably because this was a wetter climate.

It is not true that there were no signs of humans.  Mostly there were not but there were a number of structures that looked like gazebos of some sort.  No one was using them as far as I could tell but they were there, scattered about in no patterned sequence except for three things.  Near the foot of the mountain the gazebos were more numerous, they were larger, and foot trails that led to them were fairly prominent.  The trails led through the grass in what appeared to be comfortable configurations.  They were not straight; they followed subtle contours of the terrain.  I could see that in the distance the occurrence of the gazebos lessened, they were smaller and the foot trails were smaller and straighter.

I began my ascent.  In order to do that I simply proceeded up the trail that was closest to where I was to begin with.  In short order, I arrived at the first of the gazebos in that area.  It was also one of the largest.  The area beneath the gazebo was not paved.  Rather, it was bare earth beaten down by countless footsteps since the structure was built at some long ago time.  The gazebo was not as pretty up close because of its obvious need for refurbishment.  I could see that it had been very well cared for historically, but not lately.  The needed repairs were not horribly extensive but I understood they were not in anyone’s plans at the moment.  I understood that people still showed up from time to time to be together under the structure for a while and then to go about their separate ways.

I had no reason to remain there so I continued my upward climb on a path that presented itself on the opposite side of the gazebo I had briefly visited.  It was clear that the path was not as large or well-traveled but it proceeded generally upward to another structure.  This was a smaller gazebo but still quite substantial.  As I neared the structure I began to note again that it was still okay but in increasing need of repair.  It had a similar beaten earth floor where people had often gathered over the years.  I took no particular time to examine the gazebo in great detail because I understood it was not that different from the first one.

This pattern repeated itself as I climbed.  The trails were narrower, and the gazebos were smaller and scattered further apart.  They showed less signs of use other than beaten earth floors, which eventually even began to have a few weeds under the covers.  Mostly they still needed refurbishment or repair, even more so in some cases than had been true down below.  But the path still proceeded toward the peak of the mountain.

In a while, it became apparent to me that I would come to the end of the trails and the gazebos before very long.  Also, the grass began to be wilder; still green, but wilder and rougher.  I peered upward toward the mountain peak.  It was still there directly in my path due south.  What I did notice that was different was that the clouds were now fairly close to me, not far above.  This created a darker aspect over all.  As I gazed about I realized that I could no longer see any trail leading upward; I had come to the end of where people had obviously used this side of the mountain.  No gazebos could be seen any further up the mountain.

I became aware that there was no evidence that any person had ever been where I now stood.  There was no fear, only awareness.  The darkness was growing as though day were coming to an end.  I cannot comprehend why or how I came to know that my journey up this side of the mountain had come to an end.  To be clear, I had yet again failed to get to the goal I knew I was supposed to attain.  There was no feeling or emotion as I turned around and began the journey back down to the bottom of the mountain.  As I did so, the vision ended suddenly. 

I understood clearly that the two parts of the vision were connected.  I had now known twice that I was to ascend the mountain.  In both cases, I was in a place that made it seem quite possible to do so.  Each time I had failed to get to the goal and turned back with no feeling except some slight disappointment.  I had not yet even seen the top of the mountain.

PHASE THREE

After some time had passed from receiving these two phases of the vision, the third part appeared to me.  At this point I can no longer recall whether there were interactions with the vision between part two and part three.  I believe there were other occasions in which components of the first two parts of the vision were revisited with other details and other understandings but I cannot be very clear about that.  But, eventually the third part came to me.

When part three appeared it commenced from a point that connected it to part two.  It began with my finding myself back at the beginning of the trail(s) with the gazebos.  I understood that I had returned the way I had ascended to the beginning point.  This time, there was a highway there.  As I remember it the highway was straight and ran east to west.  So, I was at the closest point the highway came to the peak of the mountain.  I knew that I was to proceed to the west for the next part of this vision.  As I departed to the west I was immediately in a position quite some distance away from the starting point.  The highway continued fairly straight toward the west until it was lost in the distance.  I knew, though, that I was to leave the road at that point and proceed toward the mountain from this considerably greater distance than either of the two other attempts.  I only noted that; it did not bother me.

My direction of travel would now be to the southeast.  To my disappointment, there was no real pathway.  As I set out it soon became apparent to me that I could not take a straight route.  Try as I would, I was continuously forced by the terrain and various obstacles to proceed due south, more or less, rather than southeast.  The terrain quickly became very difficult for walking and I soon had passed away from the highway so far that I no longer had a sense of how to get back to it.

Frustrated that I could not proceed in the direction I wished, I nonetheless proceeded on the journey.  My hope was that before I had gone too far to the south, I would be able to change direction and get to the mountain.  It was more important than ever to get up there.  I would not be dissuaded now.  I began to feel that I would be successful this time even though the difficulty would be very great.

I was utterly alone and I knew that no person had passed that way before, or maybe only very few.  As I traversed the difficult terrain I looked frequently to the southeast to try to view the top of the mountain.  I could never really see it but it seemed more nearly visible than it had been on the two previous journeys.  Determination grew in me.  At the same time, I began to notice that I was now following the contours of a steep ravine that lay between me and the mountain.  I could not go back for some reason; I could only go forward.  The ravine got deeper, wider and steeper as I went but I had to go on.

I began to feel that the real goal was now to the east.  I had come so far south because of the terrain that I was no longer northwest, I was essentially west of the mountain.  Finally I came to a place where I attempted to cross the ravine.  I couldn’t really see what lay on the other side, but a sense grew in me that I needed to make the crossing, no matter how difficult.  So I abruptly turned left without any help from the terrain and came to the edge of the ravine.  At first this looked like a hopeless venture but I was determined to do what it took to cross over.

As I began to descend into the ravine, I was suddenly across it and making the last efforts to come up out of it.  I had no sense of how that had happened.  I was simply there, and getting out of the ravine only took a few moments and little effort.  Now I was on the same side of the ravine as the mountain.  I was close to its western reaches.  I looked up to study the mountain and determine an approach.  What met my eyes was a very rugged landscape.  It was steep and rocky.  There were no apparent pathways.  Jumbled boulders were everywhere.  Most of them were themselves small hills. 

It looked hopeless but there was no way to turn back.  Unlike in the first two parts of the vision, I was not released.  I was still commissioned to reach the top.  I could not see the top but I knew with certainty that I was staring straight up to where it was.  Only the terrain hid it from my view.  It was time to move on.

As I ascended the extremely unforgiving terrain of boulders and ravines and such, I was not afraid.  I was near the goal I could not see and I was motivated by something outside myself to just go on.  The vision ended and I came to myself.

There has never been another phase or part of the vision.  I have tried to make the journey continue but it has not.  In subsequent times, various parts of the whole vision have returned to me.  They have not brought me any more actual information.  They have simply returned.

What I have come to know is that while the vision did not come to an ending, I will still arrive at that summit someday.  I may never “see” it, but I will arrive.  I believe I have this, in trust, from the Lord.  Some significant aspect of His purpose is there for me, or at least in the journey itself.  In the vision, or not, I will continue my ascent with the certain knowledge that I will arrive where He sent me.

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