Growing up, we had Stone Mountain. The highlight of Gwinnett was Stone Mountain. The endless 5 mile walk around it and the quick run up and down could make you feel invincible, “I conquered a mountain.” In reality, it was a rock. A very large granite rock. Mountains are classified by an altitude of 2000 feet or more, and Stone “Mountain” just barely misses it at 1686 ft MSL (mean sea level). Yet, it was still my mountain. It rose above the Earth – steadfast, solid. We picnicked there, took class trips, and watched the Devil Go Down to Georgia as the Laser Show played on the front of the mountain on July 4th. Despite Mum and I’s frequent hiking during my youth, that was my only real mountain for a while. Until Medellin.
The international Medellin airport is located in a nearby city called Rionegro, high in the mountains. The bus ride from the airport is long and winding. The road clings and traces the mountain as if drawn by an artist, but the cars do not cling the road as closely. When I first arrived in Medellin in 2011, the sky had just turned dusk. I gasped as I peered out the window as we made our way into town. The city was alive, teeming with light, down in the valley, and the shadows of the other mountains edged in my periphery. The hour-long ride generously offered breath-taking views on the way down. My fervent, camera-hungry self tried relentlessly to capture the view just once. But it always eluded me. Unfocused, dark. I had to accept this was a view too advanced, too incredible for modern cameras.
For the rest of the summer, the mountains humbled me. Before, I had been used to conquering the “mountain”, now, I felt instantly small and powerless against it. At the same time, there was a serene calm the mountains gave off, as if to say, I have conquered gravity, I have conquered so you don’t have to. It is in this that I see God’s might most clearly. The Earth never lets us forget who its maker is. He who is calm and loving like the soft ripples of a pebble dropped into a puddle and He who can strike in anger, flipping a table in the temple like earthquakes flip cars and level houses.
I have never forgotten how the mountains made me feel. I have sought them out in my travels as a way to connect with the world and nature. And with each new mountain I climb or traverse, I am continuously humbled and in awe of the mountain ranges where Earth met Earth and decided to rise.
It’s one of the reasons I came back to Medellín. These mountains inspired me to see more of the beauty the world has to offer. I wanted to see them again with new eyes.