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Toward Wholeness Blog

Belayed for life…


4:30 AM. I’m awake, packed, and walk into the guest room where I nudge my son Noah.  “Wake up.  Climbing time!”  Once conscious, he too is up and packed, so that we’re on the road, by 5AM, cruising northward for an hour before stopping for breakfast at Denny’s.

7:00 AM.  We leave the Denny’s parking lot just as the sky behind the Cascades to the east is brightening, as we drive together up a road we’ve driven hundreds of time, only this time is a time unlike any other.  In the past, we were on this road together as parent and child, because this is the road to our old stomping grounds in the North Cascades.  Our mutual love for creation and outdoor pursuits was formed up in these mountains and has often been the thing that’s belayed our lives together through the seasons and transitions that mark movement from childhood to adulthood.  Today, we’re in awe of the incredible beauty, as the seasons change before our eyes with each foot of elevation gained.   But today, we’re here as peers; climbing partners – adults.

10:30 AM. We’re making our way up the steep approach, as we ascend out of the forest towards the rocks.  In the past I was pushing him, teaching him, sometimes waiting for him.  Today the roles are reversed, as he’s taken up with climbing the way he takes with anything he does: completely.  He’s the one pushing me, teaching me, waiting for me as I suck air at 7,000 feet.   “We’ve switched chairs” I think to myself, as I look at him, well ahead on the trail, checking the guidebook, hauling most of the gear.


11:30 AM. The climb is as perfect as possible: fall colors, cloudless sky, crisp air, insect free.  We share a moment on the top, and a couple of pictures.  I point to the north, showing him the trail where, when he was about eight, he stopped hiking and sat down, crying, telling me he could go no farther.  I carried him then.  Today, though we both climbed, he did the heavy lifting, the planning, the leading.  He carried me – and being carried never felt so good.

5:30 PM. After conquering the challenge of finding the rappel anchors, we’re finally back at the car, and the next few hours will be punctuated by stops for food, phone calls home, and conversations about vocation, relationship, ethics, and more.  I love his honesty, his thoughtfulness, his humility.  I love the man he’s becoming, and the friend he is.

9:30 PM. We’re home and after a quick hug good bye, I ask him what his plans are for tomorrow. “I think I’ll go climbing with some friends.”  I sink into bed, grateful that the climbing ropes that have held us together through the

years, have been part of the fabric that’s also knit our hearts.  I say a prayer of thanks for health, for safety, and for the gift of having a good relationship with my son.  These three blessings, among many others, make me feel full.

If you’d like to see more pics of the Liberty Bell route, the fall colors, and the good life of climbing, click here.

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