Thursday, April 7, 2011

Our Cooper River Bridge

While many Southeasterners were concerned with getting over the bridge last weekend, (Cooper River Bridge Run) Brad and I concerned ourselves with getting up a mountain. This wasn’t just any mountain, but the first of five sacred mountains in China, 3rd in height. Emperors who used to be carried by caravan EVERYwhere, would be carried to Mt. Tai, but then actually get down and make the ascent with their own two feet, so we’ve been told. They would walk up the mountain to extend gratitude and prove fortitude soon after the gods had made them supreme ruler over China.

This mountain is also not like any other mountain in that it has 7,000 (but who's counting) beautiful stone steps. They made me think back to when my dad built a rock patio in our backyard in Connecticut. How I loved that patio! I vaguely remember it being constructed, but I do remember that it wasn’t an easy task. Can you imagine lugging stones all the way up a mountain in order to make steps for an emperor? I guess if your people can build the Great Wall, nothing else seems too much for which to ask.

These steps were not easy and as the hours passed they seemed to increase in difficulty. That wasn’t all that increased! You should have seen all of the people! I know this is China, and granted we were warned that it would be crowded (Monday and Tuesday celebrated the annual “Grave Sweeping” holiday so people had a couple days off of work), but seriously – it was nuts. It was especially nuts about 1/2 of the way up when we reached a MASSIVE group of people getting off buses to make the final trek up themselves. RUDE! Brad and I had already stopped to rest twice and now these people were coming in with excited smiles and fresh legs? Please.

The mass of people who crammed onto these steps was unreal and something I never could have expected. I really felt like I was running the Cooper River Bridge. I got mad at people who were going too slowly, Brad told me once to “get over to the side” because going up the middle was too crowded, and then later we both moaned at a group of college-aged kids who had stopped and sat down right in the middle of the stairs. Seriously, right there in the middle?! Mind you, all this was happening in the dark of night. We didn’t start our hike until close to 12:30 A.M. Not only were those people sitting in the middle of the steps, but they also couldn’t be seen until you basically stepped on them.

Ha. This makes it seem like it was terrible. It was nothing of the sort. It was cold, but the perfect weather for climbing. It was difficult, but not unable to conquer. It was crowded, yet just like on the bridge, being surrounded by so many people was intoxicating. Everyone was in it together. You felt badly for those who seemed too tired to keep going, and you felt proud of those who looked as if they should be too tired, but were still persevering.

It took us right about 4 hours to get to the top. We were up there for about 2 hours. In that time the wind picked up, our fingers neared frost bite, and our toes went numb. Also in that time, the stars gave way to the sun’s rays, the sky began to blossom with light, and more and more people successfully summitted the mountain, gathering round for our communal reason for this exertion.

He was slow coming. He took so long I began to question if maybe he never really shows himself at sunrise, maybe he just sends up his rays and calls it a morning. After all, he’s too busy cooking up Jimmy Dean sausage for his family. I saw him on TV once. His daughter is such a cutie.

We all waited… and waited. I knew something had to be coming because the Chinese people were a l l still there, gathered around on the rocks with their cameras ready. This was not their first rodeo. They had to be waiting for something more than just a lit up sky. After what seemed like forever, I heard a gasp and cheer and then lots of chatter. I looked up and there was the tip of the beautiful red sun, in all of its glory, rising upward in a picture perfect, blue sky. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

My heart smiled as I thought it was just like God to make us wait on one of his miracles. He promised it, and it would come, but was I willing to wait, frozen fingers and all? I know I’ve made mistakes in my life when I have not waited long enough. I’ve rushed down the mountain too soon, just missing God’s miracle that he had planned to give me one minute later. Thank goodness, no thank God, this morning Brad and I decided to grin, bear it, and wait. Waiting is worth it.

And then we had to get down the mountain… with 10,000 of our closest Chinese friends.

o.h. m.y.


  1. Marvelous! So many memories of Mt. Tai Shan. But we cable car'd up and walked down in the daytime. You guys are incredible. One day I'd like to overnight at in the inn at the top. Must have been a exquisite experience to watch the sun come up over the mountains. Beautiful descriptions and photos. Love you so much.

  2. A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.!!! you guys are such rock stars for doing ALL 7,000 stairs yourselves. So glad I got to talk to you guys this morning!! love you!