Experience at the summit
Are you one of those people for whom mountains have a fascinating attraction?
At least I count myself among them.
When I was young, I was tempted by the curiosity to learn what made my brother so enthusiastic about the mountains.
So I went on several tours with him into this wonderful world, which allows us to experience pure nature and leads us to the place where heaven and earth meet.
What impressed itself deeply in my memory was the wonderful sunrise on the Hochkönig.
We had spent the night in a small hut at a height of nearly 3000 m. The day before it was a very exhausting, sweaty ascent and the last reserves of power were mobilized. After a restful night's rest I went out early in the morning. My brother was already there. Both of us were totally overwhelmed by this sight of the rising sun, which threw its rays over the panorama of the surrounding mountain peaks. We stood spellbound. It was like a window opening into transcendence.
The words formed in our hearts: "My God - how great you are - how beautiful is your world." We could hardly get enough of this magnificent sight and could hardly part with this sublime place.
Silently delighted and introverted, we began our descent over the glistening snowfields.
In the texts of the Gospels and also in the Psalms we repeatedly encounter the mountains as a place of encounter with God. Poets and writers also chose the mountain as a theme.
I am thinking of the Tabor experience of which the Gospel tells us. I can imagine the emotion of the disciples at the transfiguration of Jesus - and that they did not want to leave this place.
When I pray the psalms, I sometimes remember my summit experience - especially in Psalm 19, where the psalmist succeeded in putting into words the glorious event of the sunrise:
"God has pitched a tent for the sun in the sky. In the morning it comes out radiant like a bridegroom from his chamber. Certain of victory, like a hero, she begins her run..."
The mountains - they can really become your friend, as A. Exupéry puts it: "My friend, I need you like a height where you can breathe differently."
Perhaps Alfred Delp, a prisoner in the dungeon, remembered such a summit experience when he wrote with handcuffed hands in a letter: "I live here on a very high mountain. Up here, human and divine solitude meet in serious dialogue. One must have bright eyes, otherwise one cannot stand the light up here, one must be free from giddiness, capable of the lonely, narrow height, otherwise one will fall, become a victim of smallness and treachery..."
The mountains, I cannot climb them now, but in my memory I keep them as a treasure, as a source of joy and light.
Sr. Silvia Liebl
Foto: Sepp Wurm