Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Climb EVERY Mountain?

"The fact that we had reached the summit seemed to matter little to my dad. To me it was everything. Every time I stood atop a mountain peak it was a marker, a triumph, an erosion of my sense of failure. I did something. I set a goal, worked hard and achieved success. In the caverns of my mind, worth and value were being fashioned all because I could climb a mountain...

"I glanced over at Dad. He smiled with affirmation. My thoughts began to wander. How do we know when we are loved? Is it that look of acceptance, a smile and warm embrace? Or is it when someone buys us crap we don't need or lets us have our own way? 

"... Isn't one illustration of God's love the offering of his constant presence to us? Even still, my struggle to show up for others remains. What does it say when I withhold this valuable commodity? Busyness is the ultimate trump card. It will get you out of virtually every social situation, or at least buy you amnesty a few times when you let a friend down. ...If I'm busy, I don't have to be responsible for what I fail to do...

"Like any other addiction, busyness works so well. It gives us the edge to avoid emptiness loneliness, unpleasant memories, hurt, intimacy - and consequently, the clarity that silence and an unhurried life can bring. Still, almost everyone I know is trying to get caught up, trying to commit to fewer things, and aching to get away from the frantic race that consumes modern America...

"Truth is, sometimes I don't want a slow-paced, intentional life. I have systematically engineered a life of chaos. The consequences at least appear better than facing the reality of my own life. And so each generation is more disconnected than the last. When I look around at the world, I see a bunch of people desperate to know they are loved living in the shadows of a community too busy to pay attention to anyone but themselves.

"...Dad and I meandered our way back to the car. In contentedness and silence I drove home. Here I was, spending all this time with my dad. My motivations were thrills and accomplishments. What were his? He didn't care about accomplishments. He was content reading an ancient book and falling asleep in front of the TV watching some old musical. Why was he climbing these giant mountains with his temperamental son? The answer was right in front of me, yet it would take years for me to discover."

Source: Wisdom Chaser: Finding My Father at 14,000 feet, by Nathan Foster, afterword by Richard J. Foster. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2010. pp. 42-44.

See also the excerpt found on the author's website, Answers Found on Mount Quandary.

4 comments:

Paul Merrill said...

Unrelated to the deeper point - but my sons climbed a few 14ers this summer - and some without me! They can run rings around me.

Marti said...

Impressive work, Ben and Jay! And running circles around you might take some doing, Paul.

One thing I thought was funny about the design on this book: It's all about climbing mountains in Colorado, and then they put a picture of MOUNT RAINIER on the cover?! It's a great pic and a good design, but looks little like the Rockies. Not that I've ever been on one of those summits... heck, maybe you can see Mt. Rainier!

Nathan Foster said...

Thanks for posting the quotes Marti. I felt the same way about the cover. You should have seen the other ones I had to choose from, they were pictures from back east.

Marti said...

Ah, stock photo... I was a little horrified when I went to the Tattered Cover Bookstore one day and saw a photo that had been used on the front of a book I had written on a large poster advertising another (and probably better) book. Somehow I thought that would never happen! And then there was the cover copy that ended up being different from the subtitle and from what they'd told me it was going to be... Still, they published the darn thing and that's something, and I'm glad.

Really liked the book, Nathan. Hope to get some of the members of my small group to read it. Particularly one guy who is a big fan of Renovare, Colorado mountains, writers like Donald Miller, and the "recovery" movement. Can't help but think he'd really dig "Wisdom Chaser."