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The Mountains We Have Climbed

When I was a university student, I camped with Navajo students who were also in my geology lab. They told scary stories as the darkness crept around us and the stars came out one after another, the fire crackling and making tiny holes in my grandmother’s wool blanket that was my cover.

We woke at dawn to climb up to the peak of Timpanogos Mountain. This was a well-traveled path, not the kind of dangerous hike that many of you have accomplished. The morning air was cold with the smell of pine needles sharp in our noses. I was probably wearing Keds tennis shoes and jeans and a T-shirt. We found a rhythm to our walk and some hours later arrived at a place from which we could see the summit.

All of the other students made that last stretch to the top. I stayed behind and watched their progress. Not climbing to the top was a choice. For me, getting to the top was just another goal and I didn’t believe in goals for they seemed to destroy the moment. Although at that time I was a deeply believing member of the Mormon Church, I held the Unitarian Universalist interest in the journey rather than the destination.

Our newest members, Jack and Mary Fran Bennett, have a plaque from the Guinness Book of World Records in their home. He was the first person to climb all of the highest peaks in Canada. He is a neighbor and the one who spoke to me about a walk into the Grand Canyon which I accomplished—all the way down and up—in December of 2022. Thank you, Jack. The journey was hard. I was still recovering from my bout with COVID and was not in my best condition. I am proud of that walk.

My time with Granite Peak has been a brush with that pesky world of goals. I have befriended getting to destinations and find myself proud of walking 1000 miles of a pilgrimage route and doing that hike into and out of the Grand Canyon. If I were to go up Timpanogos again, I would definitely go that last stretch. You have helped me believe in climbing mountains.

I believe that together, we have accomplished much. The pandemic was a mountain that we climbed together all the way to the top, with no path but the one we forged.

Of the fruits of our shared COVID ministry, I am most proud of our Neighborhood Outreach Ministry. We still have a food pantry on Fridays that has given us relationships with neighbors. LINC is now becoming part of that ministry which has also been providing for the needs of immigrant families and others in need. I believe that this ministry embodies who we are.

It was our outreach into the greater community that became CCJ, a place where people who do not have houses can find refuge. Empty Bowls is reaching into the greater community to help with the growing food insecurity. Responding to the needs we encounter, we are focusing the reach of our opportunity scholarship on certificates that would lead to viable work for the children of immigrant families. Through these certificates, we will be empowering young people to climb mountains.

I will be talking more about this in our service on June 9 which will be followed by a “Songs of the Earth” concert to raise money for the “Feed Your Neighbors” program. Do you know that the community connected with us through the Neighborhood Outreach Ministry has the most recipients for their program? That means that we have been able to connect the farmers with the places of food insecurity in that wonderful reciprocity that benefits all.

We have another mountain to climb as we say goodbye. Let us look back at our years together and value all that we have done together. This will be hard. It is easy to look back and see what we couldn’t do! But let us take this challenge and see those mountain tops we climbed. There are more ahead. You have a mountain to climb in making the decision about what to do with the sanctuary. Do not shy away from this decision but forge ahead. We have been walking since dawn and the summit is in sight. 


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