Several strings of prayer flags form the ribs of an invisible tent above the summit cairn. A nearby stacked rock shrine houses a tilting scoured Madonna. And a small vertical bare wooden box with door held closed against the weather using a simple hook and eye protects a frayed and yellow journal: notes and prayers, poems and gripes, from those who passed this way.
Communities that enjoy a similar ritual, climbing a mountain, regardless of language, culture, or demographic, hold dear to each other. Respect comes naturally and is shared casually. Words are secondary, beliefs tertiary, and so on. Common rituals form the ribs of an invisible tent, fragile pieces of string and symbols on cloth that fray onto the winds and get replenished again and again — from whoever is able, to all who would nod and approve.
It’s not until later, over coffee in the village perhaps, that I recall the dissonant wind’s shouting that temporarily quelled my chattering lizard mind.
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