Why Did He Do It?

“But why did he climb at all?  What was it about the mountains that drew him?  I suspect that only those who themselves climb can really know.  I can only imagine.

He was lured by the exhilaration of meeting head-on the intellectual and physical challenge of climbing. Perhaps in nothing else are mind and body so joined in being taxed.  And he was gripped by the awesome sublimity of the mountains… a beauty all-encompassing, unavoidable.  Beauty pure from the hand of God, untouched by human hand.  And deepest, perhaps, climbing was for him a spiritual experience.  To go into the mountains was to face God.

Challenge, sublimity, purity, spirituality – and mingled with these, menace…The menace is essential to the exhilaration of achievement.  On the way up he passed a huge boulder onto which were fixed plaques with names of over fifty people who had died on the trio of mountains one of which he was about to climb.  He must have seen it.

So I know why he went.  His deepest self drew him there, a self his mother and I helped to shape.  He had learned of challenge, of delight, of God.  Something of us was inching its way up that mountain on that brilliant Sunday in June.  Something of us slid down, bones crushed.

But the question keeps asking itself, ‘Why did he do it?'”

-Nicholas Wolterstorff – Lament For A Son

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