I clearly remember the day that I conquered The Matterhorn. It was sometime in the late 60’s.
Now my triumph didn’t include ropes, pitons and climbing chalk. And it wasn’t on the spectacularly iconic north and east faces of the famed peak in the Swiss Alps. I’m talking about Disney’s greatest thrill ride in 1968. The Matterhorn. It’s imposing figure cast an imposing shadow (and still does) over the borders of Fantasyland and Tomorrowland.
You could see the peak all the way from Interstate 5. To this day, there’s nothing like spotting the mountain top as you drive down the freeway. Every time I pass Anaheim, I look for the snow-capped pinnacle.
Well when I was young, The Matterhorn was a terrifying bigger-than-life roller coaster. It WAS the quintessential “E” ticket! “E” tickets were the most valuable at Disneyland, and at least one “E” ticket was always saved for The Matterhorn.
The ride started with a long, dark and steep clunkity-clunk rise to the top. There were pitch black passages through the center of the mountain that slowly rode past the Abominable snowman (I always thought it was the “Abdominal Snowman”). Once you launched onto the mountain, at times it seemed like the carriage was going to fly right off into thin air.
It was a big deal to ride The Matterhorn. You had to be a minimum height, for crying out loud. And I don’t recall that we even had seat belts back in that day. You just had to hang on.
Well, I conquered The Matterhorn the day I realized the outcome was predictable. It was just that simple. There was no need to be afraid…I wasn’t going to die. Walt would never let me be harmed in the process of 120 seconds of wild-eyed fun. It dawned on me that if people were hurt on the ride, it would be shut down. And in a decade plus of operation, no one died, so I was going to be safe.
Recently, I learned that (all the while I was shuttering in my boots to ride) The Matterhorn had a basketball half-court for the mountaineers who climbed it. It was located near the top of the mountain. From what I understand the hoop and court remain intact.
On Monday of this week, I thought about The Matterhorn and knowing about outcomes when I read a letter from Benjamin Rush to John Adams in 1811. He mentioned something which we often forget about the founding fathers: the result of this fledgling democracy was unknown. They faced an uncertain future. Maybe even death by hanging. Rush wrote to Adams:
Dear old friend,
The 4th of July has been celebrated in Philadelphia: in the manner I expected. The military men, and particularly one of them, ran away with all the glory of the day. Scarcely a word was said of the solicitude and labors, and fears, and sorrows and sleepless nights of the men who projected, proposed, defended, and Subscribed the declaration of independence. Do you recollect your memorable speech upon the Day on which the Vote was taken? Do you recollect the pensive and awful silence which pervaded the house when we were called up, one after another, to the table of the President of Congress, to subscribe what was believed by many at that time to be our own death warrants? The Silence & the gloom of the morning were interrupted I well recollect only for a moment by Col: Harrison of Virginia who said to Mr. Gerry at the table, “I shall have a great advantage over you Mr. Gerry when we are all hung for what we are now doing. From the size and weight of my body I shall die in a few minutes, but from the lightness of your body you will dance in the air an hour or two before you are dead.” This Speech procured a transient smile, but it was soon succeeded by the Solemnity with which the whole business was conducted.
How relieved they must have been that the new nation began to succeed. There was nothing to fear, at least in the secession from the British Empire. Even though the ride to independence had its share of roller coaster moments, the experiment was going to succeed.
It was their Matterhorn moment.
And here’s ours: though we can’t predict how our carriage will wind down the mountain of life, we know that God holds us in our hands. We are safe. And the end of the ride finishes in a great place. Our eternal reward.
I love listening to Haven Today with Charles Morris as he’s addressing the everyday challenges of our life’s roller coaster. God gives us a seatbelt which is as much to protect us as it is to comfort us: the Holy Spirit.
So you want to be comfortable with the outcome of life? Want a Matterhorn moment? Here’s the simple formula: follow Jesus. As Charles often says, it’s all about Jesus.
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