Coming Down from the Mountain
The goal was to hang out on the mountain. No cell service. No wifi in the cabin. Mile-high elevation. Oh, and did I mention, no kids.
It was a sprint of a getaway up to the mountains and back. It wasn’t meant to be a leisurely vacation of champagne, roses, and romance (though it was some of those things too). When I told some family we were packing our bags again, after just returning from holidays the next state over, they didn’t quite understand. Not that it mattered. For us, it was an intentional decision to get away. Not for R&R as much as for P&P: prayer and planning.
A couple years ago I read about another writer who had stolen away with her husband at the beginning of the year. It wasn’t a trip to celebrate milestones or anniversaries— it was a vision retreat, just for two. I thought it sounded dreamy: me and my journals spread out across a goose-feathered king-sized bed. My bible by my side with housekeeping and room service on speed dial… and of course, my husband right next to me.
Unfortunately, my husband’s work schedule was never able to make way for my grandiose plans. Usually, he’s in the thick of post-Christmas-prepping-for-the-next-thing on January 2nd, and it’s mid-month before he surfaces. That’s not exactly the “beginning of the year”; by that point, I’ve usually thrown in the towel on some of my resolutions.
But last fall, as we were preparing for the big holidays and going to see family, I circled back to this lingering hope that maybe, just maybe we could make it work. Maybe we could find the perfect location to retreat to that wasn’t too far away. Maybe we could find a place that wouldn’t leave us eating rice and beans for the rest of the month. Maybe we could find someone willing to brave an overnight with our kiddos— just one night. Maybe.
When the stars aligned and we found a dreamy cabin, a brave soul to watch over our girls, and a night on the calendar that we could all agree on, it was set. And last Friday we packed one overnight bag and headed out with a goal to come back full of purpose, hope, and with love tanks that were overflowing.
Together, we reminisced over our highs for 2017 and shared hopes for this new year. We asked questions and probed deeper into each other’s hearts than we let anyone else go— challenging fears, demanding risk, and admitting insecurities. We dreamed big, and then drew a line on the page and dreamed bigger, until our dreams were no longer attainable by our own strength or merit, but had crossed over into the land of the miraculous.
We went back to the words we have been carrying, whispered through pages and people, and we circled new themes that will serve as a banner over our lives for this year. We read and wrote, we laughed and cried, we ate delicious food, we sat by the fire, we hiked up the mountain, and soaked in the hot tub. And after 24 hours, we came home a lot freer.
We brought our luggage home, but our baggage remained— regrets, unfulfilled dreams, deflated hope, insecurities that we had no business holding onto— it stayed behind. We drove down from the mountain and back to reality with pages of things to put our hands to, and an understanding that ahead of us was hard work and a need for perseverance. Because that’s what happens when we come down off the mountain— the real work begins.
And in the week since I returned… I’ve lost track of how many times (and in how many ways) I’ve heard the phrase, “do the work”. The theme of getting after the work before me has been woven into numerous conversations, pages, and messages that I’ve listened to. So, I’m doing the work.
The non-sexy work of mundane tasks on repeat. The unglamorous things that really give me gray hair more than anything. The work that typically goes unseen, unheard or read about— that will not offer a paycheck or bragging rights. But that’s what I’m going after. Because that’s what God has asked me to do. And if nothing else, I’m learning to obey when He asks me to do something.