This painting by David Lee is a favorite because I see the story of life embodied in it.
The lotus flower is very beautiful, yet the circumstances around its growth and development are anything but beautiful. This flower normally grows in swamp like conditions.
From the Buddhist tradition, we learn that the lotus flower has several meanings; the first is fortune.
It grows in muddy waters, and it is in this environment it rises and blooms above the murk. The second meaning is purification of spirit which is born in murkiness, but transforms itself through growth. Lastly, is faithfulness where those who work to rise above the muddy waters will need to be faithful followers. In this case, the red lotus flower refers to compassion and love. A fully bloomed flower represents full enlightenment and self-awareness.
All humans are born in a world where there is suffering. This suffering is simply a part of the human experience. Suffering makes us stronger and teaches us to resist temptations. When we banish negative thoughts from our mind we are able to break free of the muddy water and become our better selves. Learning to navigate through the mud teaches us to choose the right, but often the more difficult path, over the easy one.
In many ways, I see the lotus flower as a symbol of the lives we each face. Hopefully, we each turn out to be as lovely a person as God intended us to be. But it is usually not without overcoming rugged environments, situations and decisions. Some of these decisions can have major consequences. That is what we do with our Climbing Out Program; we help change the circumstances of the lives we touch. We share new behaviors and skills to create more fertile ground for good growth. It takes all the compassion and love our community can provide to bring about healing and joy, looking forward to new friends, new goals, and a new life.
Sharing our journey with others who want only what’s best for us keeps us on the path of improvement, a path that over time also leads to great peace.
“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity…” – John Muir
After six months of hiking, city runs and rope training, anticipation for what’s next is at an all-time high. This journey of preparation and training takes the 2017 climb team to Oregon’s tallest peak…
… a mountaineering “icebreaker” of sorts. Welcome to mountaineering folks.
In one week this team of courageous fighters will attempt its summit. An alluring, jagged, ice-covered tower, hovering east over Portland; this eleven thousand-foot mountain is the first significant test in the journey toward Mount Rainier.
Climbing mountains is tough. It just is. It takes sustained hard work; months of training, overcoming, and challenging oneself to keep going. To take on the steep slopes of Mt Hood, each climber has had to put in hours and hours of training to be able to stand atop the summit.
Back in the early days of November, we began this journey upward. The invitation was out for all Tacoma Rescue Mission men and women to join. The only requirement was a commitment to the team and a desire for a real life change. Since then, some have come and gone, but two women and three men have stuck with it. These five have dedicated themselves to weekly workouts, monthly hikes, and new relationships.
We have hiked all over the cascade hills and mountains. Recently our team hiked Mailbox Peak, as well as Mount Si, with fully-loaded mountaineering packs (see pictures below). Led by Recovery Beyond Paradigm founder and experienced mountaineer, Mark Ursino; each hike added a new level of climbing expertise and mountaineering knowledge. Each climber has gained the tools and mountaineering skills to climb Mt. Hood with a great amount of confidence. Additionally, through deepening relationships, the team is growing to trust one another and rely on the teamwork necessary to summit such great heights.
As this team sets in for its final work week of preparation, like any mountain we face in life, we can expect a few bumps along the way. We each need support to get up, and keep going. You are invited to join us here for updates, and as you look on, we invite you to encourage these courageous women and men.
(You can encourage a climber here: Encourage A Climber . Scroll to the bottom and leave a note!)
In the late evening hours of May 19th, we will ascend upward toward the summit of Mt Hood. One step closer to our goal of summiting Mt. Rainier.