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VIEW FROM THE TOP
Author: Paul Landis Delaune
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When I was a pre-teen, my family lived in South Dakota. My dad was stationed ad Ellsworth
Air Force Base, outside of Rapid City. In the two and a half years we lived there, our favorite
activity was going camping in the Black Hills, usually Sylvan Lake. My dad usually fished while
my two brothers and I explored the campgrounds or our whole family would talk and play
games with other families whose dads also were in the Air Force.

I was only 12 years old when we moved from there, but I have always considered the
Black Hills to be themost beautiful area I've ever visited and it has always been my
desire to return there as an adult. I can understand why the Native Americans who
live in the region consider the Black Hills sacred. It feels sacred.

Sylvan Lake lay at the foot of Harney Peak, one of the highest points in the region,
thought I don't recall how how it is. It's mentioned as a special place in the book,
"Black Elk Speaks".  I just remember there was a rough jeep-trail going to the top. Shortly
before one of our visits to this campground, I saw the movie "The Ten Commandments"
with Charlton Heston. Being an impressionable child and one who had a particular
reverence for the Bible and spiritual matters, the movie had a definite effect
upon me. I have a vivid imagination, especially as a child, and was always pretending
I was a soldier, a cowboy or an Indian, a dinosaur or some other creature.
So, on this visit, I decided to pretend I was Moses. I found a straight, stout branch of a
tree to double as a staff and as a walking stick and began to climb Harney Peak.

 I did climb it. All the way to the top. And the view from there is breathtaking. You can
see so far and you feel like you can reach up and touch the sky. Even as a boy-and boys
aren't often into appreciating natural beauty-I  experienced the beauty and took it all in.
I'm glad the experience and memory is mine.

In the recounting of this personal tale from my youth, I left out one very important detail.
Before starting out on my adventure, I neglected to tell my parents where I was going
and ask for their permission, so obviously they were worried and upset
when I returned.  Sometimes parents have no sense of adventure. They merely saw a
boy who disappeared suddenly, whereas in my heart I was Moses climbing Mt. Sinai
in the quest of the sacred. It was my destiny to do so.

Destiny can be a strange thing. It has become my destiny, partly by circumstances
and partly by choice, that the mountains I will climb as an adult are in my head and
in my heart. The mind and emotions. These, to me, are the last frontiers. Knowing
my own mind and seeking to understand my emotions, especially love, is an adventure
beyond the scope of words. This is an adventure into the very essence of what and who
I am, of being human, of   being created in the image of God. In my imaginaiton,
I am still Moses climbing Mt. Sinai in the quest of the sacred, the sacred within me.
And the view from the top is fabulous.

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