Robert: “What a harsh world you live in.”
Branson: “We all live in a harsh world, but at least I know I do.”
Downton Abbey Season 3, Episode 4
As historic winter storm Nemo descended upon the east coast, unleashing between two and three feet of snow upon New England and its residents, the beloved Swede spent the weekend wandering the wilds of New Hampshire’s White Mountains. Crampons strapped to his boots, he made his way through waist-deep snow and ascended Mount Washington, home to the world’s worst weather.
Well before meteorologists began issuing dire warnings about the approaching storm, the Swede had signed up and purchased equipment for a weekend mountaineering course. The course offered training in basic techniques for traveling in snowy mountainous terrain, including practice in ice climbing and belaying, as well as recognizing and avoiding avalanche hazards. He learned how to use both a snow axe and an ice axe because, evidently, there is a difference. Given the itinerary of the course and its objectives, I’m confident neither participants nor instructors gave the slightest consideration to canceling because of weather.
Friends and family members asked if I was worried about my husband while he was out enjoying his little adventure. I told them no. Truthfully, I just couldn’t allow myself to think about what he was doing while he was out in the cold and snow.
And then there’s this: Birds gotta fly; fish gotta swim. And the man I married needs to ramble about in the great outdoors and, occasionally, grow ice in his beard. He refers to the outdoors as God’s pottery shop—the place where he sees God’s handiwork everywhere on display. He is willing to expend the effort and assume the risk necessary in order to drink in his displays of profound beauty.
The guides, he told me, displayed a kind of artistry in the way they managed carabiners and ropes. Using a top rope belay system, climbers ascended a steep slope anchored by a series of three ice screws One ice screw, the Swede explained, is designed to hold three climbers.
“The guides did a good job of making me feel safe, so I was willing to risk getting out of my comfort zone,” he said.
I’m not sure there are enough ropes, carabiners, and ice screws in the world to make me feel safe dangling from the side of an icy cliff. Several times last summer, as I was walking across a snowy field in an Alpine pass, my foot slipped and I was sure I was sliding toward certain death. Yet when the Swede tells me he is planning another one of his adventures, I have learned to stop asking, “Why on earth would you want to do that?”
My husband knows, ultimately, he is not held by ice screws nor is his safety guaranteed by the strength of a rope. He rests, instead, in the assurance that the One who formed the mountains and summons the weather has also measured out each of his days. The Swede knows this world is not a safe place. Spending time in the company of the One who made it, however, becomes his reward for daring to lean into its dangers.
Joining Laura @ The Wellspring:
And updating my gratitude list: