This picture. It speaks so strongly to me. The moment I saw it, I could imagine myself standing at the bottom of that snow-covered hill, the sun shining brightly off the surface back at me. Millions upon millions of chilled, sparkling crystals, which, at first glance, resemble a sheet of glass or a crisp, white sheet before being thrown on top of a bed. So clean and pure; full of possibilities and opportunities and hope.
I cautiously think about taking that first step up the hill - how deep will the snow be, I wonder? Are my boots tall enough, or will I feel the sudden and shocking chill of the snow crumbling over the top of them? To be honest, I don't really want to ruin the smooth surface - the picture of perfection - by placing my feet into it, because I know it will never be the same once I do. I won't be able to take back my steps and smooth the snow to look like it did before. But then again, if I don't, how will I ever make it to the top? How will I ever know how big and strong that tree is up there, if I don't, one day, stand directly next to it, under it's vast umbrella of protection? It appears so small from down here, but up there, I bet the trunk is sturdy and well-weathered after years of growth. I imagine you can see as far as the eye can behold from that viewpoint, and I bet it's absolutely magnificent.
So I decide, hesitantly, to take my first step...and then the next, and the next. One foot in front of the other; that's what I'm telling myself. About halfway up the hill, my legs start to get a little tired; the snow is much deeper than it looks. My feet are getting cold, but I don't have much farther to go, so I press on. The air is thin and brisk and chills my insides as I breathe in and out at first, but eventually I can feel my body warming up from the exertion of each step forward. I remove one of my gloves and then another and unzip my coat a bit; ironic how the cold doesn't feel so cold anymore. It's hard to believe, but I'm almost to the top now and even though I'm tired, my pace quickens at the thought of this journey being complete. I glance back for a brief moment at all those footsteps buried deep and I'm amazed at how far I've come already. I think to myself, I really can do this. And I don't know if it's possible, but the sun almost feels brighter and warmer as I get closer.
Just a few more steps...
Wow! I place my hand upon my chest and take a deep breath in, because, oh my gosh, you should see the view from up here. It's spectacular! The tree that once looked so small is looming next to me and it's roots are sunk deep down, buried underneath the blanket of snow. The branches are more brittle now, but I know that they, too, will come back to life very soon. And it's amazing how quiet it is standing here; the only sound is the light breeze and my labored breathing. I lift my face up to the sky and the sun...oh friends...the sun...it's so bright and warm and brilliant. I feel a small smile start to form across my face and a peace begin to permeate my entire being from head to toe. I never imagined I could feel this good. I guess the journey wasn't as hard as I thought it would be.
I finally open my eyes and as I squint back down the hill, I can see someone standing where I once was. They appear to be anxious and struggling, looking from side to side, trying to decide if they, too, should take the first step. Someone looks like they've been here before, they think, but they must be stronger than me. You see them start to turn their back on the journey and you know what message their heart is beating to; this is too hard. I'll never make it.
I call out to them, Stop! Don't go! They turn back around, wondering if they heard my voice by mistake. They place their gloved-hand up to their forehead to shield their eyes from the sun and they recognize me standing at the top of the hill. They call up to me, how were you brave enough to travel all that way?
...And so it is...
You see, my friends, I believe it's more than ok to look back on the journey you've traveled, especially if it's to lend a hand to someone else.
Because I promise you...it's always worth the trip.