Before hikes, my partner encourages our family to ask nature a question. 

On a recent hike in British Columbia, I silently asked the mountains to “fill my cup of creative manifestation,” not sure what response, if any, would return.

To my great surprise, the mountains answered my question by telling me a story I haven’t stopped thinking about since — the Parable of the Three Lakes.

In the mountains of British Columbia stand three lakes that reveal a truth about all great journeys. 

At the bottom of the mountain is Lower Lake — a clear and inviting turquoise bowl hugged by oversized ferns and thick canopies of evergreens. Lower Lake reflects childhood; the beginnings of an exploration. It’s where every journey begins.

Once we pass Lower Lake, we begin to climb the mountain. The path becomes steep. The footing uncertain. A frothy torrent of whitewater tumbles alongside our trail. This is the longest and hardest part of the journey. The challenging steps that take us beyond the beginnings of our life and purpose. 

The challenging ascent is rewarded with Middle Lake: a tranquil milky-blue water twice as big as Lower Lake, so wide the towering trees on the other side look like tilt-shifted models. Middle Lake’s waters are calmed by the self-knowledge that stills what’s beneath the surface. They invite us to bask and explore. 

As badly as we will want to stay, Middle Lake is not the end of the journey. There’s one last climb to the top. The shortest leg of all.

Atop the mountain the rush of water slows to a crawl. Soft meadows of red, orange, and purple coat the ground. Upper Lake, enormous and carved into the mountain top, lurks in the distance. Along the mountain’s rim hangs a glacier suspended like an ice dragon. Its melting claws plummet in giant waterfalls that feed Upper Lake below.

It was here, at this scene, that the mountains finally spoke. They told me:

The journey felt like a climb from one destination to the next that demanded effort and perseverance. But the view from the top tells another story, equally true: that our life’s purpose is being fed by the glacier — the one true Source — all along.

The waters of who we become are the same waters of how we began.

The Three Lakes are not separate — they are one. 

Since encountering the beauty and truth these scenes revealed, its voice hasn’t stopped echoing in my mind. You seek what you are already becoming, it gently murmurs. Keep going. Do not stop

This is how we honor the Parable of the Three Lakes: we appreciate the Source, and we continue the climb.