Two hands clap and there is a sound; what is the sound of one hand?
— A Zen Kōan
It was 4:00 p.m. It was snowing. And thundering. And lightening.
I stood on the summit of the highest point in the Western Hemisphere.
I could look out about 100 feet and see shadows of the great South Face of Aconcagua swirling in the mist. But there was not another soul for miles – and thousands of vertical feet.
Our group had started out nearly three weeks earlier. Storms had delayed our progress. And ferocious winds had battered us up high for days. The team was exhausted. Our numbers had dwindled. And morale was low.
On the last possible summit day, I dug deep into my reserves, climbing solo into the teeth of an oncoming storm, to achieve the goal that had alluded me just two years before.
But it was bittersweet.
Because I was alone.
Nearly a dozen years later, on a crystal clear windless night, under the Alaskan midnight sun, I summitted Denali.
As I stood on the summit that night, I looked down at spot just 700′ below me where I had wept tears of sadness and frustration the year before, across the famed Archdeacon’s Tower, down toward Denali Pass. I could see the glistening river of the Kahiltna glacier stretching for miles in the falling shadows and the vastness of the Alaska Range spread before me. I looked across the years, the decades of this dream. And felt such joy.
Standing next to me was my wife.
Last week, in a beautiful and thought-provoking comment to my post “Selfish Dreams,” my friend Audrey wrote: “It wasn’t very long that Adam walked the earth before the Creator decided that Adam needed a partner. We are created to live in community and to care for each other.”
I know this to be true.
And I also know that we are called to give what we have; that in discovering how to feed ourselves, we must feed each other; that in living out the longings of our heart, we must share our gifts, our love, our joy.
I also know that dreams fulfilled feel doubly full when shared with those we love.
And that the view from the top is twice as good.
Mother Teresa once said, “Love cannot remain by itself – it has no meaning. Love has to be put into action, and that action is service. I slept and I dreamed that life is all joy. I woke and I saw that life is all service. I served and I saw that service is joy.”
As we enter into this season of joy, how can we share our dreams and our gifts with those we love?