Michael C. Deel, Sr.
**This is the second in the series on the Journals of Samuel. The first can be found at The Contemplative.**
The Journals of Samuel
Sometimes when the air is not too cool or too warm I will climb to the summit to look out over the valley. There is a special boulder that I vainly like to imagine is “my place” to sit. I never see a soul coming or going. It is completely isolated. There is no human habitation or travelers and that is just the way I like it. I like to be there just before first light. My perch above the valley faces east and I get a first hand view of the world awakening. The elevation is so intense that on crystal days you can make out the curvature of the earth and the air is so rare that it whispers in my nose and in my lungs with every breath. Just before the sun rises the birds begin to awaken. A rose pink glow comes into the horizon. Squirrels begin to chatter “Good Morning” to one another.
Every morning I sing hymns and praises to the one who made and keeps me, but clear mornings when I mount the summit to share in the rebirth of the world are the most special. It is then that the Spirit swells my breast and spills from my throat and lips.
I’ve been living on this mountain now for 30 summers and I might have another 10 or so left in me before I become permanently affixed to the geography. It’s the way I want it. God and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I was here 3 summers when I was visited by a young and very serious man. He was coming up the mountain, saw my fire and stopped to speak. He impressed me as more than a little crazy. But I let that pass. All God’s children deserve love and compassion no matter what hand they are dealt.
I was preparing my evening meal and asked him to join me. We spent a pleasant time eating and talking. At times he would ramble and rant about the primacy of mankind and how it was like sheep following blindly behind “gods” constructed by men who sought nothing except power by making other people believe in these “gods.” I let him go on and ramble, but I secretly asked God to have mercy on him for his unbelief.
After eating, he refused my offer to stay the night. He started on up the mountain in the pitch black. Even outside the cover of the forest it was a moonless and cloudy night. He made his way without any light guiding his steps. I heard him muttering and sometimes ranting to himself until he got out of earshot. I prayed for him that much harder.
When I first got here with Ruth (my first donkey), I set up a camp about 250 yards from the summit and about 200 feet below the tree line. My camp consists simply of a cave I found in the side of the mountain. The cave is about 30 feet deep and nearly as wide. It was more than roomy enough for Ruth and me. It is well-ventilated enough that I can build a medium size fire near the mouth and be sheltered from the wind and rain.
This is a tall mountain. The peak is 16,000 feet. From the base to the peak is 10,500 vertical feet which is a shade over two miles. The climb from the base to the peak is considerably longer. The climb is about 6-7 miles.
Ruth was my first steady companion and help-mate, but not the last. She was about 8 years old when I first got her and started up the mountain. Two summers after my meeting with the intense young man, she became ill and stopped eating. She seemed to be in pain, but where I couldn’t tell. Perhaps it was something with her stomach, but I was unsure. Eventually she lay down and no amount of persuasion could get her back on her feet.
It hurt me horribly to see her suffer. We loved one another and cared for one another. On a few especially cold nights we shared the warmth from our own bodies to survive. Then one night while demons howled among the tops of the conifers and around the summit, I sat with her head in my lap and stroked her ears and forehead. I sang softly to her and whispered how much she meant to me. She seemed to rest deeper and her breathing became slow and deep. I took my knife and drove it sharply into her ear canal and penetrated her brain. She gasped once, exhaled and was gone.
I cried for weeks afterwards. Her hide and fur to this day serve as the ground blanket for my bed.