Shaolin Master Story
There was a man living next to a mountain and everyday he thought of what it would be like to climb that mountain and what he would see when he arrived on that peak. Finally, the day came for the man to climb the mountain. Upon arriving at the foot of the mountain, he met a traveler. He asked this traveler two questions: “How did you get up the mountain and what did you see when you were at the top?” The traveler shared his path and described the view that he had. After hearing about the journey, the man thought about the way the traveler described to be very exhausting. The man decided to find another way to climb the mountain. So, he continued to walk along the foot of the mountain until he came across the next traveler. Once again, he asked this traveler the same two questions. “How did you get up the mountain and what did you see when you were at the top?” This traveler shared his experience but still the man was undecided in which direction and route to take. The man decided to ask a few more travelers. He stopped and asked 30 more travelers those exact same 2 questions. “How did you get up the mountain and what did you see when you were at the top?” After he finished talking to all 30 of them, he finally made up his mind. Since so many people shared their path and what they saw from the top, he decided that he did not need to climb the mountain anymore.
Fronk Family Introduction
As I give a brief introduction of myself and the family, I would like for all of you to ponder that story. Think about that man and put yourself in his position. What would have you done?
My name is Kevin Fronk. My wife, Lohren, and I moved into the ward about two and half years ago. Literally like 4-5 months before COVID hit. When we moved in our oldest, Georgie, was about 3-4 months old. Since then, we’ve been blessed with another girl, Maeve. If you have not seen us, it’s because we are all hanging out in the back row trying to keep the noise down. So yeah, I’m a total girl Dad and loving every moment of it.
For those of you that don’t know us, here are a few fun facts. And Lohren is going to hate me for this.
Lohren and I were introduced to each other on Facebook.
It took two months for us to meet in person and the first time we met was in the Knoxville, Tennessee airport. And neither of us lived in Tennessee.
I was waiting at the bottom of the escalators and our first date started then and there and lasted 24 days straight. Yeah, hearing that sounds crazy but hey she never got sick of me. Or at least, has never told me any different.
A year later we were married. And 3 ½ years later she still hasn’t gotten sick of me.
There’re a few fun facts about us. This ward has been amazing to us, and we have loved getting to know everyone and we are excited for the future here. But now lets to jump back to the story.
Return to the Story
The story I recounted was given by a master from a Shaolin temple and is a story I love. As we think back, what was your overall impression? What did you think?
When I reflected on this story, the first thing I thought was why did the traveler decide not to go on the journey? We don’t know much about the other stories, but I imagine they all must have been different. Did he not want an experience of his own? Would he regret it later not taking that journey? Would his life be any different? My mind was filled with so so many questions.
But to me, the story has two overall themes. First, that it is possible to share information through words and instruct/teach someone what they may encounter. Second, it is impossible to share the true emotions/feelings of the journey and the experience of clarity when standing on the peak by yourself.
This story is a perfect example of how the gospel works. We are taught countless times through words in the scriptures, through stories told by the prophets, and so on. The Lord is sharing information with us on all fronts to guide and direct us through life’s journey. And the Lord confirms this in Psalms. In 32:8 he says, “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.” And in 48:14 we read, “For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death.” As we have just read, the Lord will share information and guide us. But that is pretty much all that he can do. We are given the freedom to decide to follow this guidance or the freedom to decide not to climb the mountain.
We must and have to be anxiously engaged in this cause to climb the mountain. We must take that first step on that trail and reach the top.
To me the best part of any journey is when you reach the destination. Not because you are done. Well definitely because you are done if it’s a hard journey but because you get to reflect on the process it took to get there. Sharing the feeling of that process and experience to someone else is always impossible. No one can truly understand the feelings and emotions of what you went through unless they themselves have done it.
A few years ago, I had an exciting opportunity to paddle across the channel from Catalina to Huntington Beach. I was invited to join this excursion a little over 3 weeks before the paddle date. Someone had dropped out last minute and I got to take their spot. I found out on a Sunday evening. The following morning, I purchased a 14’ prone paddleboard. A prone paddleboard is like a mix of a surfboard and a canoe. When purchasing the board, the guy I bought it from asked me why I was getting into paddling. I looked at him and said cause I’m going to paddle from Catalina in 3 weeks. He looked at me and started laughing. He then went to tell me that it was going to be the most miserable thing I would ever do and would probably not make it.
At the time and in my mind, there was no doubt that I would make it. He was an avid paddler and I asked him to give me a training plan so that I could make it. He gave me plan and I was in the water the next morning for my first paddle.
My first paddle was 4 miles. When I finished, I looked across towards Catalina which is about 30 miles away and thought to myself, there is no way I’m going to make it. My mind instantly changed to this is terrible and I’m in big trouble. I kept thinking repeatedly that I’m going to have to do that paddle 7 more times. I also learned real fast that laying down and paddling nonstop is so boring. But I couldn’t give up. I had to stay engaged in this.
So, leading up to the paddle across the channel, this was my training schedule. I paddled every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. First week went like this; 4 miles on Tuesday, 6 miles on Thursday, 8 miles on Saturday. Second week, 6 miles, 8 miles, 20 miles. Third week, 8 miles, 8 miles, 4 miles. I only had 9 paddles’ until it was time to do the real thing.
So, on the day of the paddle, we set off at around 5 am and just under 8 hours later we made it across.
Upon completing the paddle and getting off my board, my body and mind went into state of happiness and clarity. Happiness that I made it and that I never wanted to do that again. But looking back across the water, my mind was rapidly replaying the intense journey and instantly went back through the last 3 miserable weeks of training.
Through the miserable training schedule and accomplishing the paddle across the channel, the feeling was amazing. Today when looking back, it was totally worth it, but it truly is impossible for me to share my feelings and emotions of this journey. Yes, I can sit here and tell you in great detail every stage and feeling that I went through but, in the end, there is nothing I could do for you to experience what I felt.
When the man decided not to climb the mountain, he was relying on other’s experiences and stories of what the top was like. He missed out on the ultimate feeling of accomplishment and clarity. In 2 Nephi 31:20 we read “Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.”
In this journey of life, the Lord is sharing information and paving a path for us to reach it. Ultimately, he is leaving it up to us to act and reach the top, eternal life. Can you imagine what that feeling will be like?
We need to invest in our efforts of climbing this mountain. Climbing this mountain will train and develop ourselves to not only reach salvation but will allow us to truly enjoy it. We must be anxiously engaged in this cause. The path is paved before us and it’s up to us to start climbing.