This time of year, we are preparing for the harvest. I know it sounds strange to discuss the harvest in the spring, but we must think about and plan now in order to have delicious fruits and vegetable in the fall.
Mom’s pickles were the best. She would choose home-grown cucumbers while they were still young and tender, then prepare them by placing the cukes in quart bottles with onions, dill, garlic, and long-red peppers, which gave the pickles a punch. They were then covered with vinegar, but the desired result did not happen overnight. The cucumbers marinated in this state for weeks before the flavor of the pickled dills could really be savored. But when finished, they were scrumptious.
Similarly, when my family moved to Anacortes, Washington, we enjoyed the fare of the Northwest. For us, the salmon, fresh-water lakes, lush greenery, and beautiful mountain ranges were a new way of life—and this included pickles. Yeah, that’s right. I said pickles. Our special Northwest friends started with baby cucumbers and the skill to extract the tastes into a famous flavor, such that I still relish that memory today.
Brine, seasonings, and fresh vegetables were key ingredients in the making of these memorable delicacies. We have to follow the very same steps and exhibit similar qualities if we are to achieve the status and end result of the famous Rumpfwiler dills.
Patience is also necessary. Weeks of steeping in the brine slowly but surely makes the product of our efforts realize its distinctive value. Yet even with our best intentions, everything doesn’t always work out like we planned or anticipated. To illustrate, I have an example occurring right outside my window.
Today is the last day of April. Tomorrow is May 1st and, in my mind, the beginning of summer. The next day is my birthday. When I was a child, I enjoyed having a summer birthday. I was able to play with my friends and family and spend time celebrating outside in the warmth.
Amazingly, as I look out my window today, snow is coming down in sheets. Big flakes fall and are collecting on the housetops, lawns, and cars that drive by. Winter in May? I thought it strange this year when we had a brief snow two weeks into April, despite the imminent coming of summer. After more than half-century I have been alive, as far as I can remember, a snow this late in the year has never happened before—at least not where I lived.
So things don’t always work out the way we expect. That is not new.
My son enjoys rock climbing. He has conquered some peaks that I will never even consider climbing. He uses all the right tools: a harness, carabiners, ropes, and climbing shoes, among other things. But he must follow the principles of good climbing to be successful and safe. Cutting corners, ignoring necessities, and recklessly moving forward is not only foolish, it is dangerous, and sometimes deadly. Good climbers know that.
Further, he must face the obstacle directly in his path before taking on the challenging hills, cliffs, and precipices further along the way. The goal won’t be realized by those unwilling to seize the moment right in front of them, yet climbers know that the next big challenge is still coming and rather than discouraging them, this propels them on to new heights.
Think about that for a minute. The push that drives climbers to overcome the next challenge doesn’t depress or discourage them. Rather than looking beyond the mark, their perspective actually becomes the catalyst that emboldens climbers and inspires them onto to the next summit.
Years of practice, dedication, and strength are all required for those that seek to be the top rock climbers. Often the most successful mountaineers spend a lifetime perfecting their craft. We admire and revere them for having the mettle to hang on to the end and follow the principles that ensure success.
“Priesthood ordinances and sacred covenants are essential in this ongoing process of spiritual rebirth; they also are the means God has appointed whereby we receive His exceeding great and precious promises.
“The gospel is so much more than a routine checklist of discrete tasks to be performed; rather, it is a magnificent tapestry of truth ‘fitly framed’ and woven together, designed to help us become like our Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, even partakers of the divine nature. Truly, we are blinded ‘by looking beyond the mark’ when this overarching spiritual reality is overshadowed by the cares, concerns, and casualness of the world” – Elder David A. Bednar, “Exceeding Great and Precious Promises,” October 2017
This principle is again very much like rock climbing and the belay anchor system. “Of course, you recognize your limits in climbing by falling off the rock,” says Alan Czenkusch [leader of Whistepig Climbing School of Del Norte, Colorado]. “However, you’re safe because you’re on belay.”
The belay anchor system is the crux of climbing. And interestingly, that also directly applies to the point of this article. We are safe when we are on the Lord’s side. When we put the Savior first in our lives, all other matters take care of themselves, and we need not worry. We are on belay. He is our anchor.
So while you probably never thought that pickles, rock climbing, and religion really had anything substantial in common, they actually have many more similarities than first expected, including at least the following important characteristics:
- Hard work
- Adherence to guidelines
- Persistence and enduring to the end
- Rewards now and in the future
Sport climbers’ love of climbing stems from the excitement and challenge before them. I once climbed Angels Landing with my sweetheart. She had summited the climb before my attempt and insisted that we do it together. After making the necessary arrangements, we scheduled the date for the hike. Please don’t misunderstand me, this is nothing like the mountains my son climbs—not in height, difficulty, or complexity—but Angels Landing was plenty a challenge for us: dozens of switchbacks, steep, challenging trails, slick rock, and sheer drop-offs.
We persisted and my sweet wife was patient as I followed her to the top. That is the point of sharing this anecdote with you—we made it to the top. Even though it was at times strenuous, by applying the proper rules and guidelines of mountaineering—hiking that trail, working hard, and persisting to the end—we made it to the top. And you can, too.
That is the realization of a lifetime. We can surmount our challenges if we apply the principles that will safely get us to our destination—rules for the road, the trail, and for our lives.
In your life, whatever mountain or mountains you are currently climbing, applying the principles I have mentioned will ensure you are successful as well. And every one of those principles is found in abundance in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Surrounding ourselves with people, places, and principles that motivate and help us to reach our destination does not just apply for trips, hikes, and trails. The ultimate goal of our lives is similarly achieved as we obey the commandments, surround ourselves with good, and remain in the light of the gospel.
When we stand in holy places, these surroundings lead us to do justly, influence us for good, and give us momentum, making us more capable and even better than we thought we could be.
Honorable things with which we surround ourselves keep us safe and draw out the best that is in us.
The anecdote on the link (e.g. mettle) is one of my favorite quotes of all time.
When we follow the Savior, we are ‘on belay’ and can feel safe and confident.
In 1989, Walter Penning formed a consultancy based in Salt Lake City and empowered his clients by streamlining processes and building a loyal, lifetime customer base with great customer service. His true passion is found in his family. He says the best decision he ever made was to marry his sweetheart and have children. The wonderful family she has given him and her constant love, support, and patience amid life's challenges is his panacea.