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.
I love this time of year for a number of reasons. First, its spring, new things are growing, the days are longer and mostly the weather is happier. Second, nature is beckoning us to come and enjoy all the beautiful colors and fragrances of new growth. Lastly, Easter is the season of hope and redemption. No matter where you are in life, consider yourself on course in your life journey. If things are going well – great! If you find that you are struggling with challenges or addictions, all is not lost. This is a great time to chart a new path.
Recovery Beyond is a new organization fulfilling a promise started 6 years ago by providing life changing experiences to our neighbors in drug and alcohol addiction recovery. As an organization we understand that in order ‘to truly address the problems of addiction recovery and homelessness we need to find solutions that go beyond the norm’. Our mission is ‘to develop, fund, and deliver programs, services, or items that complement the efforts of established recovery/homelessness programs in unconventional ways’.
Recently, Pope Francis spoke of the three H’s – this descriptor fits our new organization. The first, H is for HEAD, we have to gain the knowledge and wisdom to know what we believe and to see what needs to be done to alleviate the suffering we see. The second H is for HEART, to develop compassion for our neighbors in need before we can act. The third H is for HANDS. Our hands (namely our actions) are the only way we show what we believe, and the compassion we have, working together to draw the best out of ourselves; to act with love and compassion toward our neighbors in need. If we neglect the wisdom that comes from this discipline we fail to grow and love in the most complete way. Our goals are to help people make lasting positive changes and to redeem a life of love for themselves and those they care about.
Imagine your active commitment is to help and support the change you desire to make and to help others be successful. Please join our Community of Compassion Club by committing to a sustainable gift of $20 a month. Any tax deductible gift is extremely appreciated. The impact this makes on our small organization goes a long way to meeting the needs of those carrying the burden of addiction and homelessness and to find redemption. Please visit our donation page at: www.recoverybp.org/donate/
“It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves” – Edmund Hillary
The 2017 Climb Team
An ocean of clouds spilling over the vast landscape below, coated in a warming generous sunrise; a view only given to the few that journey ten thousand steps upward; only a final switchback to go now. Ice crunching and splintering below each foot; an ice axe in hand, holding vertigo at bay. Exhausted, a team of women and men take their final strides upward to the anticipated summit. A finale, a crescendo of accomplishment begins to play louder and louder in the background. Washington’s highest mountain top, a jagged ice-dome, towering over 14,000 feet, is conquered. The iconic Mt. Rainier is topped. This cohort breathes heavy and breathes deep, beaming with euphoric enthusiasm and celebrating as they reach this unprecedented height. These courageous fighters do the seemingly impossible, and accomplish a goal they set out for months before.
The summit of any mountain can best be understood by the journey in which it’s reached. There is more to this “summit” than meets the eye. Understanding the beginning of this story is important and for these climbers, the journey upward started a long time ago.
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For the past six years, Climbing Out has trained, mentored, and journeyed up mountains with recovering addicts; helping them achieve goals beyond anything they ever thought possible. Our program uses climbing mountains as both a literal and figurative metaphor for the effort required to turn one’s life around. Each year, we partner with year-long recovery programs in Washington State, inviting men and women to join this climbing program. Our purpose goes beyond normal recovery approaches, adding physical fitness, personal achievement, and the highest level of teamwork and commitment to one’s personal recovery. We finish the year with a final summit of Mt. Rainier, a five day ascent as the culminating event of achievement.
This year, five program climbers from Tacoma Rescue Mission have joined the 2017 team. They have been training and climbing since November and are already making significant strides in their recovery. Their sights are set on the ultimate physical task of climbing Mt. Rainier. Through sustained hard work and support from a team, by August this year we hope each climber stands atop that snowy giant. I would like to briefly introduce you to the team, and as we journey through the summer ahead, you will hear more from each climber, the significance of this upward “climb” for them, and the heights we travel along the way.
- Abi Brewer, from Lakewood, WA, is a mother and an aspiring tattoo artist. She seeks to one day share her story and help others that have found themselves struggling like she once did. For her, the climb team has shown that she can do more than she thinks she can, creating hope toward becoming the type of mother and woman she wants to become.
- Matthew Arthur loves learning life lessons through training and climbing. “Doing things I don’t want to do, putting in the hard work, ends up showing up in other areas of my life” said Matthew. As he continues to grow, his goal is to build life changing relationships to help him move forward; becoming the best father for his daughter and eventually go back to school near Tacoma, WA where he grew up.
- Steve Dempsey, originally from central Idaho, is finding success and recovery this year in his program at Tacoma Rescue Mission and being a part of the climbing team. “I have realized the importance of team in my recovery process and that I can push myself further than I thought with the help of God and others.” Steve’s goals forward are to stay sober, go back to school, and have healthy relationships with his family and God.
- Tisha Moore, has a determined spirit, challenging herself to keep pushing every step of the way. Growing up in Pierce County, Tisha intends on joining a machinist’s apprenticeship program after graduating. When asked what her favorite part of the climb team is, Tisha said “It’s the amazing feeling of reaching each goal with teamwork, consistency and perseverance”
- Christian Winterholler, from Kent, WA, desires to be the best hardworking and loving father for his two sons. He keeps showing up to the climb team even when it’s been uncomfortable. With determined patience and holding a positive outlook, he is finding that hurdles in life can be overcome. Teamwork has also been a new life lesson for Christian. As challenges arise, whether in climbing or in life, he has begun to allow others to help him up along the way.
We each have our mountains in life; some small, and some large; each with its own necessary training, jagged peaks to scale, and potential unforeseen hazards along the way. We have learned through our Climbing Out Program, that it takes a team to climb up and over these hills; we cannot do it alone. As this team journeys toward Mt. Rainier in the months ahead, I invite you to look on, be inspired by these five climbers, and consider your own personal mountain ahead and the team required to climb it. We believe the view from the top is definitely worth the ten thousand steps upward.
See you out on the trail…
The Climb Out Of Homelessness program uses alpine mountaineering to build new healthy lifestyle habits and relationships for homeless men and women in our addiction recovery program. Most importantly, it facilitates healing relationships between those in recovery and community members who climb alongside them.
After nearly a year of training, men and women from addiction recovery programs and a supporting crew of volunteers, climb to the summit of Mt. Rainier.
Would you consider hiking alongside these men and women this year?
Click below to learn more of how you can engage.How You Can Help
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