I’m incredibly blessed. Blessed beyond all measure. A fully funded four-month sabbatical. A time to rest, recharge, reconnect and retool. Multiple times every single day, I make mental notes of things I could be writing about in this blog. However, spotty internet connections, full days of interesting experiences, new places to explore, and just the promise to myself to not write out of pressure, means those topic ideas are primarily just logged in Evernote for future posts. But “vision” is one of those things I can’t resist writing about on this beautiful day, sitting under a canopy of trees, listening to the birds of Berlin at Hotel Christophorous in Germany.
Two weeks ago, my wife Linda and I experienced an unforgettable ride from our Interlaken hotel to the highest railway station in Europe, 3454 meters (11,332 feet). Frequently called the “Top of Europe”—Jungfrau is one of the highest peaks of the Swiss Alps. An alpine wonderland of ice, snow and rock. A spiritual and emotional tank-filling viewpoint! (Check Gingerich PhotoArt for more photos).
Equally inspiring as the panoramic breath-filling images of the Alpine villages and valleys below, is the vision of the rack-railway that was tunneled to the summit over 100 years ago. It was Sunday, August 27,1893. The 54-year-old industrial magnate and finance expert Adolf Guyer-Zeller was hiking from Schilthorn to Mürren with his daughter. Suddenly he stopped and said, “Now I’ve got it!” As he saw a train travelling up to Kleine Scheidegg, he hit on the idea of building a railway from there to the Jungfrau. That night he sketched his idea on a sheet of paper. The sketch shows the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau peaks as well as the route he planned for the Jungfrau Railway. He attached such great importance to this pencil sketch that he added the following note: “11-1:30 at night, Room No. 42, Kurhaus, 27/28 August 1893” and then his initials GZ.
Yes, that was the moment of vision for Adolf Guyer-Zeller. But the building of this incredible 7 kilometer curved tunnel through rock with a cogwheel railway system using turn-of-the-20th century engineering and technology (much of it done with only picks, shovels, muscle power and dynamite) is even more impressive. And then, the perseverance and price paid to see the vision become a reality. Just four months after his vision-inspiring hike, Guyer-Zeller submitted his application to the government authorities. A year later it was approved.
And then, the reality. Horrible weather. Unexpected obstacles. An accidental explosion of 30 tons of dynamite. Extreme working conditions. 30 deaths and 90 injuries. There was even a two-year pause in the construction while additional funds were collected. Some said, “It can’t be done.” The first train went from the bottom to the top on August 1, 1912. A projected four years to completion turned into 16 years. But, vision became reality.
More than a century later, we and nearly a million others each year, are blessed participants in the fruit of another person’s vision turned reality—a stunning view and an exhilarating experience at the top of Europe.
This is how I wish my life to be remembered. Visions pursued to reality turning into blessings for multitudes. Hardships incurred becoming purpose-filled joys. Labors resulting in fruitful legacy. Success transforming into significance.
How about you? Do you have a vision that is becoming reality? Is there a need for a restart of a vision that is on pause? Do you need to persevere through a tough patch on the journey toward your vision?
Remember these words from the New Testament, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:2-5 NIV).
For a photo journal of his sabbatical journey, go to the Sabbatical 2014 folder on Dennis’ photography website at www.GingerichPhotoArt.com.