Healed of symptoms of altitude sickness

A few years ago, a friend and I traveled to India. He was very willing to be flexible and do what I wanted to do, so I was more than willing to oblige when he mentioned his desire to take a trek in the Himalayas. He agreed to choose a hike I could manage. 

A week or so into our trip we joined a group that would be trekking for the length of time we’d planned—about six days. We were the only tourists in the group, and upon arrival at our base camp we were warned about fatigue and altitude sickness. Although I’d had some experience climbing in high altitudes, I felt a creeping fear. It wasn’t long into our trek when I began feeling weak, lightheaded, and unable to stay awake during meals. 

It was protocol for our guide to take the vital signs of each hiker at the end of the day, and he became concerned by my results. He wasn’t sure I should continue hiking the next day, and he told me to take a sleeping pill that night to help with my breathing. My friend, who, like me, is a Christian Scientist, helped me explain to our guide that I wanted to rely totally on God for healing, and that rather than take a pill, I would pray, knowing God was the source of my health and well-being. My friend supported me as I prayed that night to know I was governed by God, divine Mind—not by my own or another’s fears—and that under Mind’s government I could experience only harmony. Mind was governing and safely guiding all of us on the trip.

The next day I felt refreshed and ready to continue. But before long I was lagging behind the others. I had been singing a favorite hymn to myself at the back of the group, and in my current circumstance the words of the first verse felt especially relevant: 

I walk with Love along the way,
And O, it is a holy day;
No more I suffer cruel fear, 
I feel God’s presence with me here; 
The joy that none can take away
Is mine; I walk with Love today. 
(Minny M. H. Ayers, Christian Science Hymnal, No. 427, © CSBD) 

Love, with a capital L, is one of my favorite synonyms for God. It always brings to mind that God, Love, is not only alongside me but also before me and behind me as I walk—because Love is infinite presence. Love is not only supporting my every step, but also clearing the path before me, making sure I am prepared for anything that comes my way, physically and mentally. And Love is also behind me to protect me. 

Some of my fellow trekkers were diagnosing my condition, and I was beginning to feel I was holding my friend back from having the full hiking experience he deserved. The sense of urgency about my well-being kicked me into high gear, and I saw the importance of taking time to quietly pray and commune more closely with God. I encouraged my friend to continue without me, but he would not consider it. He joined me in staying behind and assured the others that they would see us again. 

We then hiked back down to the remote village where we’d started our trek, in order to discuss our options. We hunkered down there for the next couple of days with our trip essentials, including the Full-Text Edition of the weekly Bible Lesson found in the Christian Science Quarterly. We studied and discussed the Lesson and prayed, and I felt God’s power and glory so deeply that I was certain of my God-given freedom from this condition. 

Whenever we felt inspired by a spiritual insight or were awestruck by the amazing views or quiet peace of our surroundings, we’d say (to paraphrase Hymn 427), “This is a joy that none can take away.” This became a refrain for us, and I knew it applied to our trek. The joy of trekking in this beautiful part of the world couldn’t be taken away by the suggestion that I was suffering from fatigue and altitude sickness, since sickness doesn’t come from God, the only creator.  

After this time of rest and study, my friend and I were able to find a trail to catch up with our group, and we were greeted with open arms by everyone (and with some surprise by our guide). 

The following morning we woke up in the wee hours and headed toward our summit. As we hiked, I kept the words from another hymn close to my heart: “In atmosphere of Love divine, / We live, and move, and breathe” (Hymnal, No. 144). I love this hymn, because it reminds me that we live in the atmosphere of God’s love, and in this atmosphere there is no suffering or lack. Love fills all space and is abundant. It is never too thin; it never dwindles or diminishes no matter where we are. In Love we can experience only the beauty and grandeur of God’s creation.  

With every step I felt surrounded, supported, and strengthened by God’s love. My friend and I were the first ones to the top of the mountain to see the sun rise over the snowy Himalayas. I felt not one ounce of fatigue. Once again, we gave God the glory. 

Since that trip, I have become an even more adventurous outdoorswoman, at all altitudes. I see hiking and backpacking as wonderful opportunities to commune with God. And I don’t feel any breathlessness—although I certainly enjoy the breathtaking views!

Emily Mattson
Sacramento, California, US

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