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  • Writer's picturePaul Cotter

Climbing the Mountain


Hands holding rosary beads in prayer.

It was early morning, before sunrise. When I walked downstairs, I looked through the glass doors of our den and saw my brother Steve. He was sitting on the sofa in the dark room with one small reading light next to him providing a narrow, focused beam of light as he prayed.

 

Steve and his wife Bev had traveled to stay with us for a few days. While they were here, he began each day like he begins all his days: with a half hour of silent prayer and reflection starting at 6 a.m.  I was moved by the quiet beauty of his solitary ritual and by the sincerity of his devotion. When he was finished, I asked if I could take a few photos of him praying the next morning. After some initial hesitation, he eventually agreed – and I'm grateful that he did.

 

We're on separate spiritual paths, my brother and I. He’s a devout Catholic; I’m sincerely committed to Buddhism. But in my mind, our paths are not so different.


I recall a life-changing conversation that I had with a Franciscan friar at the Catholic university I attended. He told me, “Remember that God is infinite; our finite minds are too small to even begin to grasp the concept. All religions are attempts to understand and explain what is beyond the limits of human comprehension.”


And then the friar added: “All religions are different paths up the same mountain. If you follow any one of them with your whole heart, you’ll get to the top of the mountain.”


I consider it a joy and an inspiration to see anyone following their chosen path with a full heart. In our darkened den, I saw a beautiful example of someone working wholeheartedly to make it to the mountain's peak.

 



Photographer’s Footnote: The rosary my brother uses belonged to our late mother, who prayed daily with it.

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