What’s Your Andes?

{Note:  It’s an interesting thing about time.  I logged into my blog today (haven’t for ages!) and found this post sitting in my drafts folder.  I wrote in in February 2016, but I think it is just as applicable today.  Hope it inspires.}

Have you ever heard of Nando Parrado, who survived a plane crash in the Andes and had to hike out, with injuries, 45 miles through a frozen wilderness? It’s an incredible story of survival that I recently read about in the book The Survivors Club by Ben Sherwood. The part that sticks in my heart and has kept me thinking for weeks on it, however, is not any of the details of his survival. It’s what happened to him many years later. He was living a happy, successful life and spent some of his time giving motivational speeches to people throughout the world. On one occasion, he was speaking to an audience when he noticed a woman- unkempt, he says- weeping in the crowd. Afterwards, she shared with him that a few years earlier, she had run over her own baby while backing out of the driveway. She had “stopped living”, but had found hope in what she had heard Parrado say that day about survival. I quote from the book:

“Until that moment, Parrado tells me, he had always felt a strange, uncomfortable pride about his survival struggle…. With the woman in his arms, however, he discovered something deeper and more universal…. After hugging the woman for a long while, words came to him and he whispered: ‘We all have our own Andes in life. You also have your Andes.’”

It’s true. If you haven’t found your Andes yet, it will surely come. Many of us, perhaps, cross multiple smaller mountainous challenges instead of one big peak. But each of us will face the mountains of challenge and hardship and sorrow, where we will need to reach down deep and find what is worth holding on to, what is worth living for, and find the strength to persevere.

Some are more visible. My wonderful, strong 15 year old daughter has cerebral palsy – which includes a body that simply can’t keep up with her brilliant mind. After sharing her experience and faith with our church congregation one Sunday, a visiting man approached her and told her that she had given him new resolve to handle his own (unseen) chronic pain with more gratitude for what he still had. My daughter’s Andes is more visible; his is not visible, but just as real.

Have you found your Andes yet?  Are you crossing one right now?  May you never feel alone.  This article inspired me a couple years ago, right when I needed it, and may inspire you.  May you find the strength you need.

I have so much respect for the great examples of my life that cross their own Andes with dignity and grace. One who fought cancer with such strength and courage until the day she died. One who lost her baby at 5 days old who holds onto faith and hope through the years following.

(By the way, watching and helping someone you love go through those challenges can count as a mountain of its own.)

If you’re not climbing your own Andes right now (and, if you can, even if you are), find someone who is and lift them up.

Let us lift each other. Let us be understanding and give love to all the other human beings out there hiking through this life.  Heaven knows this world could use more love and understanding.

And let us never give up on our own trek! Let us strive to travel with dignity through all the Andes of this life.


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