Just the other day I was asked what I found when I made it to the top of Kilimanjaro. My too-quick response was snow, clouds, glaciers, and the peak’s marker that previous trekkers had festooned with mementos to signify they had been there and to leave a piece of themselves up there, I suppose.
What I should have said, and what is true, is that I found God up there. As we neared the peak I was in the lead, as everyone had decided that as the oldest of the group, I would be given the honor of summitting first. The peak was about fifteen minutes away and the closer we got, the snow became whiter, the sky became bluer, and I had this overwhelming need to cry. Great deep sobs rose up in my throat completely out of my control. By the time I made it to the peak I was crying. By the time the others arrived I couldn’t stop. They were consoling me, patting me on the back, trying to comfort me, but really didn’t have a clue what to do with me. I laughed and assured them I was okay and then walked to the edge of the mountain alone to take it all in. The chatter and congratulations going on behind me seemed a million miles away, and I was only aware of the quiet, the beauty, and the distinct feeling that God was there with me.
I said a little prayer, said hello to Mother and Daddy, to everyone I loved no longer on Earth, thanked the creator for this spectacular creation, and then as a calm settled over me, I took one more panoramic look at the world from this perspective and joined the others for celebration and pictures.
So the next time someone asks what I found on Kilimanjaro, I will be ready with a more specific answer: what I found was the presence of God.