Mountains and Valleys

Photo of and by Pam Ecrement with her sweet hubby

Every season of our life will involve mountains and valleys though in our early adulthood we do not know or expect that will be the case. The mountains and valleys of moving through adolescence and young adulthood can seduce us into a faulty sense that once we move through the rigors of formal education at various levels, develop some friendships, and experience the ups and downs of young love and perhaps marriage that life will smooth out for us. We have still been so busy with sorting out who we are and who we want to be that many of us failed to note much about the lives of those in seasons beyond our own.

If we did much traveling in those years, we began to get a glimpse of life from different climbs. Some had a pattern of visiting a favorite spot with those they loved every year. There was the beach, the camping spot, or hiking on various trails into mountainous terrains. A few of us would step beyond a favorite spot and explore new places time and again giving us a broader sense of the areas we were not so familiar with. 

Photo by Pam Ecrement

My family had few vacations during my childhood but each one was to visit a new place with different kinds of vistas and nearly always some aspect of history. These created a thirst to visit other places I had never seen from my home in the Midwest United States. Those few trips as a child to Washington DC, Niagara Falls, upstate New York, and Florida let me see the diversity of the country of my birth. My husband had even fewer trips and was curious to see more places so from the beginning we were both eager for adventures to new places each year we were able to take a vacation. Despite not a lot of money, we learned to travel without as much expense and gave our children and us times in the areas of New England, the South with its history and beaches, and the prairies and plains on the way west to the great Rocky Mountains. Before our children left home, we had visited 36 different states and a smidgeon of Canada.

We have rich memories of those times with our children laced with a fair amount of humor. Invariably we were getting the children up early and were on the road in our car and later station wagon and they were falling back to sleep for the first few hours. First stop would be a rest area for doughnuts and orange juice before driving farther. There would be new things for the children to keep occupied tucked in boxes for each since that was long before movies, headphones and devices where their eyes were glued to screens. We deliberately asked questions and pointed out historical facts and even had a few pop quizzes over time about what the capital of the state was that we had just entered as one example. There were other questions meant to stir their imaginations when we asked them what they thought it would be like to travel in a Conestoga wagon or prairie schooner and what they would have needed for such a journey. Invariably our daughter would ask how long it would be until we reached our destination for the night and my husband would say something like “a hundred million miles till we get there.”

Photo by Pam Ecrement

These trips exposed us to not only beaches, monuments, mountains, and valleys but also served to help us discover more of the meaning of life beyond our small daily environment. We didn’t know that all those trips, challenges, losses, and disappointments as well as times of joy would give us the gift of contentment in the seasons ahead.

“There is only one thing that makes human beings deeply and profoundly bitter, and that is to have thrust upon them a life without meaning. There is nothing wrong in searching for happiness. But of far greater comfort to the soul is something greater than happiness or unhappiness, and that is meaning. Because meaning transfigures all. Once what you are doing has meaning for you, it is irrelevant whether you’re happy or unhappy. You are content.” 

Laurens van der Post

We came to be most impacted by the mountains. We could not live there but they gave us a perspective of God and life that nothing else did. It was there we felt the greatness of God, the power of his creation, the wildness of his love, and were reminded of so many things that nourished our souls, minds, and hearts for living in passing through the valleys that are also an inevitable part of living. 

Photo by Pam Ecrement

The mountains challenged in the climbs and on the trails to see things more from God’s point of view. Their fierce wildness of terrain, wildlife, and vegetation stirred our hearts to grow in trust of his provision in all places and things. In the rockiness of the western mountains we loved, we not only saw the rugged terrain and what might look like barren terrain but also the waterfalls both large and small, the lakes sparkling and clear. We began to see little flowers tucked into the rocky trails and places where broken trees had fallen. New life springing up touching the granite with color and life. And we marveled in the miracles of it all. 

Photo by Pam Ecrement

Though we would travel through many places, it would be the mountains that would call us and teach us about the meaning of life to move us forward in the challenges of the valleys. Photos I took would remind us but the imprints on our hearts, minds, and spirits would be the best of all.

We could see his power in crashing waves on a beach and his beauty in the sunrise and sunset there, but it would be different for us to see Him in what might look like barren places of the granite mountains. It helped us see Him in barren places and reminded us of his provision as we moved into each next season of life on the way to now.

Photo by Pam Ecrement

8 thoughts on “Mountains and Valleys

  1. We didn’t travel a lot in my family either, but my mom always tried to get us out. I cannot wait to be able to travel more. Thank you for visiting Tell It To Me Tuesday. I hope to see you again this week!

  2. Such beautiful photos! I loved hearing about your travels and all the natural (and manmade) beauty you’ve enjoyed. We tried to take or kids to new places often too but I don’t think we’ve crossed that many states off our list just yet.

  3. So beautifully said.
    Where were u and your husbands in the first mountain photo?
    Melanie T

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