What is a little cold and ice when you've fled war? I'd always hoped to one day meet some of the brave and inspiring young refugees in the Fugees Family (some of you may recall Warren St. John's 2007 besteller about them, Outcasts United: An American Town, a Refugee town, and One Woman’s Quest to Make a Difference), and today that hope was just realized, so wonderfully randomly. As I returned to the main walk-up trail after searching for a pink glove that had blown away in Wednesday night's lashing wind, I saw a young man in a red winter cap that said "Atlanta" do a spritely jig. I gave a friendly heads-up to him about the major patches of ice ahead (I had just slipped on the way up not thirty minutes before). But he and his friends, also soccer teammates, were a melting pot from Eritrea, Iraq, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, and South Sudan, just brimming with teen spirit, vigor, camaraderie, and agility. They had in fact been fearlessly running up and down the icy mountain. How much I wanted to hear each and every one of their incredible stories. But just as one of them would excitedly point to the other as having a really powerful story, he would point to the next person as having an even better one. Plus, they said they needed permission from Coach Luma Mufleh to say much more. So we agreed that, for now, their motto "Never Give Up!" and their website, which has some of their moving personal profiles would be enough.
So, while I didn't find my wayward glove, I did find a pair from Wilson's Leather, which I left there but added a photo of to the Left Behind gallery, and I also witnessed dangerous, stone-cold beauty in sheets of ice, and a pine cone frozen in time, and even saw a fireman put out a fire on a stone grill that someone had carelessly left burning in the morning (neither he nor I knew that grill even existed, and he's been working at the park for about 20 years). And, at last encountering some of the Fugees remains inextinguishable from my mind, as has having met so many of the other immigrants and refugees at the mountain that have often surmounted harrowing odds, not just to join some exclusive country club called America, but quite simply, to survive. Again I ask, what's a little cold and ice when your village is burning?