A 22-year old young man, on a three-week mountaineering trip in the North Cascade Mountains of Washington state climbs the steep rock wall at nine-thousand feet. He’s from New Jersey, and has never camped in his life. Now, just as he’s about to "top out" on the summit of this rocky peak, he has skills and perceptions he’d never dreamed of having a month ago. He pulls up from the shadows of the cliff, over the last ledge into the sun, onto the summit world. The guide is there, holding the rope for him at the top watching his face, as he takes in the 360-degree, cottony cloud and blue sky view of the jagged peaks all around him. In awe of the beauty and his feelings, he drops to his knees.

A mother and three teenagers, are at 16,000 feet in a remote Peruvian village in the Andes. After traveling two days on high mountain roads, and then on horseback on trails that climb among glaciated peaks, the group spends two days with village elders and priests of "The Nation of the Q’ero." These are an independent people who have very little contact with the modern world. A village ?Elder diplomatically challenges the teens about their concept of life and the environment. We spend time learning about the plants, mountains, the earth, and our role in it. They talk to us about how to "keep one’s center" when life’s situations bring us challenges and how to call upon the "apus" or mountain spirits for help. The Elder explains to the teens, that more is not better. More importantly, he graciously suggests they regularly give thanks for what they have, in an often confusing time of life.

A group of six blindfolded nurses, crawls on their hands and knees on a lawn outside the hospital. They are looking for little colored plastic building blocks. They are taking non-verbal cues from their 6 teammates outside a thirty foot circle marked on the grass. The toot of a whistle means "go left", a shaker means "no", a bell, "yes". Frustration builds and tempers flare. Fifteen minutes later, after the activity has ended, as a group, the participants share what it was like, not being heard, or not being able to communicate to other team members. The facilitator asks them, "Have you ever observed this happening at work?" and with smiles from the group, the discussion moves forward.

Participants have just come back from their three-day "Solo" experience deep in the woods – with minimal food and gear. They have come back together in silence and now sit in a circle. they are about to share some of their experiences. A poem is read...

The time to meditate comes slim, indeed!
The constant business of life about me
leaves short time for quiet thought.
Sometimes I desire no busy life about me
— just the rocks, the snow , the night and the stars;
For these things I do not disturb
when I think deep and alone
and feel close in my being
to a silent and knowing God
coming forth from these things
— the rocks, the snow, the night and the stars.

William Allan Long.

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