Climbing in Prayer

What brings me to prayer?
Is it not a mountain I must climb,
my innate daring desire to conquer mystique?

In the beginning,
Standing to taste a snowflake,
Freezing doubt and sweet possibility meet.

The air was silent,
Remembering to breathe through my nose,
Warming the icy shock through a simple technique,

The world’s hush broken,
from the crunch of my boots,
Ascending in hope the impossibly steep.

Quiet petitions rise within breaths,
Focusing on each inconvenience,
Challenging my thoughts, soul, and body’s physique.

Prayer is but a monologue,
a crazy man confronting only himself,
Uninterested in answers but miracles to reap.

An imagined path,
Pit falls entombed in new fallen snow,
Fearless only to the bold, mountain sheep.

Convincing myself to become like sheep,
“Baahhh!”, I laughingly yell,
My bellow goes unechoed and falls asleep.

Half-way up and arduous,
Persistence jettisons the last ballasts of levity,
Turing back – I ponder… the trampling underneath.

Doubt crushed below yet looming ahead,
This solo desire feels not so alone,
I am summit-drawn; yet…something Other calls this sheep.

Before the vanquish,
A penultimate test crouches in wait,
Joy or rejection from conquering the heap.

Ice-laden and sheer,
fingertips stretched – thinly grasping the edge,
A new prayer emerges while pulling up to peek.

Finally, rising to eye-level,
chin pushing down on ice, snow, and stone,
thrusting my right leg over I roll exhausted for sleep.

I stand to view majesty,
Upon wobbly legs and yet further confounded to hear,
One salient echo, within me and impossibly deep.

But how could an echo,
survive the wilderness of overwhelming quietude?
This echo was within, my prayer, my heart aching to speak.

This prayer was different,
A symptom of The Other’s desire,
One I cannot unhear, blot out, or release.

Maybe I am crazy,
For I felt not just alone but even seemingly held,
Yet this mountaintop experience brought me to weep.

It was thrill and joy,
Wrought by myself in this difficult climb,
Profoundly surpassed by this prayer I repeat.

My sense of self,
Disappeared – like a snowflake first tasted,
It came to me, gifting itself for strength to conquer the heap.

Looking at my knapsack,
two water bottles unopened, tucked on each side,
Unaware of thirst by ever-present snowflakes to eat.

Descending the path,
Made by the me – I can no longer recognize,
Like the desire I once chased, lays wasted and incomplete.

Understanding prayer,
Truly continues to be another mountain to climb,
Yet now the beginning is different as is the summit somehow.

Grateful for the hurdles,
Even eager to face it’s unforeseen penultimate test,
Joyfully begging for strength through snow that I plow.

Fulfillment of Desire,
Is no longer mine that I seek,
But for the One Who strengthens me in the here and now.

by Chris Clody