The Mountains


I have been thinking about the passing of Nelson Mandela. It has caused me to remember the mountains. When you get to the top of one, the others stretch out before you.

During my lifetime I have witnessed the passing of many people who have helped me to the top of mountains: Martin Luther King, jr., John F. Kennedy, Robert Frost, Lucille Ball, Mary Travis, Agatha Christie, Sam Maloof, Wharton Esherick, George Nakashima and more. They challenged me to go further, try harder; they moved me to laughter and peace, helping me to lay down the burdens which weren’t mine to carry.

They showed me what I could become and cleared away the tears that came when I tried and failed, or failed to try. Most of all, though, I remember Traveler. Traveler was a dog I met who taught me a great lesson. He was a working cow dog on a Simmental ranch in Arkansas. One day I was with his owner, and we were riding in a truck across a pasture and along a barbed wire fence line looking for a Confederate grave yard. Traveler was running along beside the truck. He ran ahead of us and, planting his feet on a fence post, began to bark.

I asked his owner what he was doing, and he said, “He’s just lying. He wants me to think he’s got a squirrel treed so I’ll stop and let him rest.” I looked at that, though, and saw another meaning. That dog was actually afraid love would pass him by. He did not realize that the bond of love in his and his master’s hearts would keep them together and that all he had to do was to keep his eye on the bumper of that old truck.

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