Mountains hold a world of fascination

January 26, 2006|by LISA PREJEAN

We've been talking about mountains a lot lately at our house.

If it's winter and it's cold, mountains should be snow-covered, because they are not pretty without snow or leaves, according to my resident first-grader.

She has a point. Bare trees are just begging to be covered with something, whether it be snow, ice or leaves.

Then there's the height issue. She thinks we should be able to see all the mountains of the world from our house because mountains are big.


She has taken a particular interest in the mountains of the Middle East. It's hard for her to imagine how far we are from that area of the world. She hears it mentioned on newscasts, at the dinner table and at school, so it's only natural that she would be curious.

"If Mount Ararat is so tall, why can't we see it from our house?" she asked this week as we were driving to school.

I told her there are several reasons for that. Mount Ararat, which is in Eastern Turkey, is a long way from our house. Plus, we know that the world is round, just like Columbus said. It is not flat. If the world was flat, perhaps we could see Mount Ararat, but it isn't, so we can't.

She seemed to accept that explanation.

Her questions about this volcanic mountain that rises to 17,000 feet from the plains surrounding it were prompted by an ancient story I had reviewed with her the day before.

It all started with Sunday school. I was teaching a group of 5-year-olds the story of Noah's Ark from the Old Testament book of Genesis.

The biblical account tells how God told Noah to build an ark because the earth was going to be destroyed with a flood. The ark was about 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. Some biblical scholars say it would have been able to hold 43,000 tons.

Noah was to take his family and two of each kind of animal and provisions onto the ark. His neighbors made fun of him because it had never rained before and he told them that the earth was going to be destroyed by rain.

I like to have children imagine how dark and smelly it would have been on that big boat. Still, it was a safe place.

The Bible states that it rained for 40 days. After floating for another 150 days in the water, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. Scripture doesn't specifically say that the ark came to rest on Mount Ararat, but since that is the highest peak in the range, it has been assumed by some people that the ark landed there.

It was several more months before the earth was dry enough for Noah's family and the animals to leave the ark.

The book of Genesis also describes how God placed a rainbow in the sky as a promise that He would never destroy the earth with a flood again.

Children love the story of Noah because of the animals, the ark, the water and the rainbow.

My 7-year-old daughter is no exception. She likes for me to try out a lesson on her in the days leading up to church. That's great because she usually asks questions that are age-appropriate, about things that grown-ups just accept.

Sometimes I've almost overlooked key points. She helps me see the story through a child's eyes. She did this once again as we were talking about Noah.

The mountain played an important role in the story. If the ark hadn't rested there, the animals wouldn't have been able to get out.

Ararat is a place of intrigue. Many expeditions have been led there to find remains of the ark.

And many little ones have looked to the summit with a smile.

I think they still see the rainbow.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send e-mail to her at

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