Why do people want to climb to the mountaintop? Why do people speak of the mountaintop experience like it’s some kind of nirvana and the valley as though it is the despair of life? The valley is where the food grows and the stream flows. The valley is where the village is. The valley is where the community is. People live in the valley. Structures are built on mountaintops for defensive reasons—very difficult to get water and food up there.
I doubt Mary was on the mountaintop when the angel Gabriel came to her.
I’ve climbed often to the top of a mountain near my home. Having gained the summit, I generally spend a few moments and then climb back down. Not much to do up there. One time I was, yet again, suffering a bout of depression. I didn’t know how to get well. While sitting on the mountaintop looking down at the valley I felt discouraged. I cried out to Jesus to make me well from this gnawing emptiness—this nothingness that was a something which couldn’t be seen or felt or touched, the effects of which were vague and intangible at best.
When people speak of the valley of despair, I wonder if they really mean a narrow, deep, dark ravine that one might fall into. The valley to me is the life enriching place where nourishment—physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual—is to be found. Both the ravine and the mountaintop are the outlier experiences. Those with bi-polar run up the mountain and then fall into the ravine. Those with depression find themselves trapped in the ravine. And those who visit the mountaintop often? Perhaps those are the extroverts that love to become celebrities.
Why do people long for “the mountaintop experience”? I don’t know. I prefer life in the valley, far from the ravine.