We seem to wait for a very long time; I watch the moon sail towards its epoch in the sky. The Inuit travelers begin to stir, and begin to strap bags over their fur jackets. Three attendants begin to jockey our entourage into a semblance of order before the rising rock cliff. I watch as they ready the covered sled that belongs to Colin. The canopy cover of his sled parts and he steps out into the moonlight to stand beside his sled. Colin gazes towards the heavens at a sparkling moon. His hands, together in a prayer pose against his chest, slowly lift above his head towards the moon. Then in a descending motion his fingers point down towards the rock wall. Then before us the shadows disappear in the moonlight to reveal a narrow passage through the rocks – a passage that was not there or noticed just moments before. I can’t believe my own eyes!
In astonishment and confusion we immediately scramble to make passage through the rocky crevasse mystically revealed for us through this impassible mountain wall. Colin’s sled is lifted like a stretcher before the giant rocks by two of the fur clad porters. Stumbling a little, in single file we ascend up a narrow path. The porters bearing Colin’s sled lead the way. I am amazed by the ability of the porters carrying this largest and most cumbersome sled. Their legs are as sturdy and sure as mountain goats and they test every footstep for security and balance.
At first there was a steep ascent and wind whipped us, bitter and cold. In the distance there was the sound of falling rocks. The background seemed to resonate with the roar of thunder or avalanches. We trekked for what seemed an eternity, all the while I watched my frosted breath billow and disappear. I could hear the uneasy staggered breaths and coughs of the others. Just when I felt I couldn’t go on, we crested a ragged gray rock. The view was astonishing. There, before my eyes, was a lush green valley. A meandering path could be seen in the distance, leading to a magnificent multi-leveled grayish white building, The building protruded from a rock wall as if it was built out of it; like the ancient apartment complexes built in the canyon walls at Mesa Verde that I once saw in southern Colorado. Immediately the air seemed to warm. I rubbed my eyes, not believing the vision before me.
The silence was broken by Virginia. “That is absolutely beautiful.” She said with an exhausted sigh, half speaking aloud to herself.
“We’ll be there soon – my God we’re saved!” Herb gasped from between deep breaths.
The four of us stood side by side, arms around waists, tears of elation and joy in our eyes. Hope radiated from each of us. What seemed a hopeless situation of doom had unveiled itself and had transformed into a cloak of hope and survival. Shortly, we would begin our descent to this monastery called Harmony.