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Not Lady Gaga: A Medley of Thoughts “Climbing Every Mountain”

February 26, 2015

I know I wasn’t the only Mennonite girl whose very first movie seen in a theater was The Sound of Music. No Saturday afternoons watching comics and westerns for this child of the 50s, no way.

From the Oscars this past Sunday night, I learn that the endearing classic movie is now 50 years old. And if hip Lady Gaga can sing (so beautifully) that medley of favorites from the movie in the year 2015 and still be cool, maybe I can reflect a bit on what “Climb Every Mountain”—the message of the movie—has meant to me over the years.

I was 14 when I went to that first movie. I mostly remember being blown away by how huge and big the film and screen were. Amazing! And fell in love with the movie and Julie Andrews. But I also guiltily recalled revival preachers who had pounded into my brain, “Would you want Jesus to find you at the movies?” More liberal preachers said that “good movies” may be okay to see but the next movie would not be quite so clean and next thing you’d know you’d be going to X-rated movies. I am not making schputt (as we used to say in Indiana, is that Pennsylvania Dutch?) of being raised in a home that was careful about exposure to “worldly” entertainments. There are definitely plenty of movies that I would not want in my memory bank, but thank goodness most Christians, even Mennonites, are trusted with making our own decisions about what is worth viewing, what is not. (See my daughter’s review at Third Way website about a movie she now wishes she hadn’t seen.)

But especially the song “Climb Every Mountain” is so spiritually inspiring that, like Maria, it has moved and stirred me often through the years. What girl hasn’t pretended she was Maria out enjoying a solitary walk or hike and belted out her best soprano solo beginning with “The Hills are Alive” and ending with “Climb Every Mountain”? (Lucky are the countless young teens who had the opportunity to play the Mother Abbess—or Maria—in so many high school musicals!)

Austria’s Alps, image courtesy of meepoohfoto at

The Rodgers and Hammerstein lyrics are really quite simple and the song repetitive, and one could now say, almost cliché (I’ll just excerpt my favorite parts):

“Climb every mountain,
Search high and low…

…Follow every rainbow,
‘Till you find your dream.

A dream that will need
All the love you can give,
Every day of your life
For as long as you live.”

What’s not to love about a song and a movie that encourages people to yes, find their dream, and give all the love you can muster. Who doesn’t need a push like that sometimes?

I think of the mountains I have climbed, both literally and figuratively, starting right there on the farm where I lived when I was allowed to see my first movie:

P1060015 On our old Indiana farm

**The gently rolling hills (they hardly look like hills to me now) of our northern Indiana farm pasture where I would fling my arms wide to the sky, warble this or another song if I was getting over a failed crush or romance.

NorthFlaHomeEditedOur north Florida home, and the VW in which I learned to drive stick shift.

**Roaming the flatlands of north Florida when I lived there—or a deserted beach even better—mourning my homesickness, or lack of friends, or lack of direction for the future.

KentuckyEditedMe the “teacher” in Appalachia, heading to my classroom, with the Kentucky hills in the background.

**Exploring the mountains of Appalachia in the year I spent in the Mennonite church’s Voluntary Service program, pondering whether and when I should go to college, and why.

P1070247The night before beginning a long journey to Spain.

**The magical year I was able to spend as a student in Spain, and actually wandered the meadows between the Alps of Austria over Christmas break. You can bet I couldn’t help but break out in Sound of Music songs as I spent a somewhat lonely Christmas day at a genuine castle (Schloss Mittersill) there.

EditedHillsEMUThe hill behind Eastern Mennonite University, senior pictures.

**When I finally met the man I would marry, of course that also required some element of risk and pondering: is this my dream? I climbed the hills behind Eastern Mennonite University and weighed the future. Did we have what it takes to go the distance? Was this my rainbow?

leavingforhoneymooneditedStuart and I leaving on our honeymoon from the backdoor kitchen at Trinity Presbyterian Church, my roommate watching us head out.

**Then when the little ones started coming along, I truly discovered the need to give “all the love you can give.” During those years, I didn’t have a lot of time to go out to the hills and sing by myself.

TanyaChickenPoxEdited        DoreenChickenPoxEdited Miserable February when all the children got chicken pox.

**If I could grab a few minutes of peace in the shower, you might have heard me warbling about climbing that everlasting mountain between poor-me-sniffles and outright boo-hooing.

HighlandCountyVaExploring the hills of Highland County, Virginia.

**When the husband blew out his knee and spent weeks in a full cast way up his thigh and he needed help doing almost everything—but yet I knew things could be so much worse—I just tried to get through each day. There was not a lot of singing or mountain climbing going on. As he got better and was able to actually provide childcare for the youngest not yet in school, it proved to be a blessing in disguise as I went off to my part time job.

StuartCastKneeTherapyEditedUpper, Stuart and dog Wendy commiserating after he had knee surgery with a cast to his hip. We set up a bed in the living room. Lower, as he recovered, he did therapy at home and took care of three-year-old Doreen.

From this distance, with three daughters through college (one through grad school), two adorable grandsons (and sons-in-law), and nearing 39 years of married life where we’ve been able to follow many of our dreams for travel, involvement in the kids’ lives, having a close and committed church community and much more, it has been a sometimes bumpy journey (aren’t they all) but one filled with love, laughter and tears.

SmokeyMountainsEditedThe lines may feel cliché but oh so true:

A dream that will need
All the love you can give,
Every day of your life
For as long as you live.

I feel very fortunate, and I thank God: not only for my strict and wise upbringing, but the faith community that has mostly shaped me and my family in the last 40 years, Trinity Presbyterian, and the extended family on both sides that supports us, no matter what.

Striebig Photography & Design: Davis Family &emdash; Striebig-8536

I feel richer than any pop star or the most famous “red carpet” Hollywood walker.


If you missed it like I did, here’s Lady Gaga’s lovely medley from Sound of Music.


What was the first movie you remember seeing? What do you remember about it?


What have you learned from the mountains you’ve climbed?


From → Faith, Family Life, Nature

  1. Pert Shetler permalink

    Great Blog Sis! I enjoy learning more about your personal journey with these snippets from the past. Love you. Pert

    • Thanks! Was that your first movie too? Or did you sneak out and see something else before I ever did. It seems like I went with a group of my church friends (Pam, Vicki, Marlene, Marty). Maybe. Can’t remember you being along.

  2. Brava for a delightful post wound around the sentiments of Sound of Music. This movie was only the third movie I saw. My Mennonite grandmother took me to a Lowell Thomas special in an auditorium ,not a “real” movie house. Later, my Mennonite aunt took me to see “David Copperfield” in a venue similar to the aforementioned. I saw Sound of Music when it came out in Cinerama the week I met my husband Cliff. We saw it three times, and the third time when we left the theatre he was throwing popcorn into the air. We were hooked on the movie – and each other by then!

    How wonderful that you have a store of photos to document the mountains and valleys of your journey. A+ post, Melodie.

    • I was thinking of you as I wrote this post. I guess I had seen “Audobon” films on big screens and stages earlier, but this in a real movie theater, downtown Goshen, Indiana, with velvet curtains and fancy golden cords hanging from walls and popcorn in the library and lush carpeting: it was all so very new and “forbidden.” Thanks for the comment and glad you enjoyed it.

  3. Beverly Silver permalink

    Lovely Melodie! SOM is one of my favorite movies, music also. When Lauren was little and Mother was living with us, there was a Sat. morning program – 11am or 12 noon, from WGAY out of DC (interesting name for a radio station – it is not longer on the air, and that was before the use of the word “gay” had been taken over!) – anyway they would broadcast the soundtrack or recording of the music from many different musicals, especially Rogers and Hammerstein. We three would listen to the broadcast while eating lunch together, usually donuts, bought after Mother’s hair appointment down town! I also have and had most of those musicals in record, then tape and now CD form, and we played them often. Lauren amazes friends when they find out she knows the words to most of those songs! Another thing that brought back memories was the photo of you and Stuart leaving the church house – through that back door, from the old tiny kitchen! I remember your wedding! Anyway, “Thanks for the memor(ries)” I could not play the video you posted – message said that YOUTUBE had removed it. At the bottom of the piece, it said post on the social media sites, but I prefer not to do this one. I just felt it had too much personal stuff and photos about someone else – you- and I don’t want to be the one to share that with my whole friends group! Hope you understand! Love, Bev.

  4. Love fall your reflections, here, Beverly. I love the description of lunch that included donuts and the custom/tradition you associate with that. I’m sure Lauren remembers those lunches too. Thanks too for alerting me to the problem with the YouTube video, I’ll check. And I do understand not sharing with your friends group–no pressure! I frequently have things from work I’m supposed to share out but I too weigh carefully and decide! Bless you.

  5. Margaret Kauffman permalink

    “Sound of Music” , my favorite too. It was a privilege to visit the site where it was filmed in 2000 when we celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary. I always enjoy your blogs. I also grew up at Goshen and can relate to your memories there.

  6. How very cool! I would love to visit the site where it was filmed. So, are you also a relative of mine? Does my mother know you?? Just curious and thanks for the comment!

  7. Margaret Kauffman permalink

    I thought we were related on the Miller side but am not certain. I visit your mother at Greencroft when I get back to Goshen. Your parents have been in our home in Montana when they came to the Belton CPS reunions. We lived at Harrisonburg in the 80’s. I knew your aunts Susie, Adeline and Arlene

  8. I knew my mother had mentioned you (but I get mixed up, sorry!) How they loved those Belton CPS reunions. The last major trip of Dad’s life they traveled out to Iowa for a CPS reunion. Speaking of my aunts Susie, Adeline and Arlene, make sure you read the Another Way column that Arlene’s son, Doug wrote just this week about his near pass into the great beyond:|Today+is+a+Gift

    Thanks for filling me in!

  9. I remember the talk about The Sound of Music when I was in junior high school, but I definitely was not allowed to see it. When I was in tenth grade and the high school chorus sang “Climb Every Mountain” for our spring concert, I LOVED it, but had no idea it was from that movie!! I honestly do not remember when I first saw it or in what setting. But it certainly has been a favorite of mine for many years. What really blesses my heart is that our 14-year-old foster granddaughter, who lives in a very urban setting and knows everything there is to know in that world, loves The Sound of Music! When she was here over Christmas break, she pulled out our old VHS copy of it and we watched it again! It appeals to all!

    • Jean, I love that you were not allowed to see Sound of Music in junior high as a Lancaster Co. Mennonite, right? How neat that your granddaughter loves this classic Sound of Music. I remember when all my cousins sang Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer at the family Christmas reunion because they’d seen the movie on TV, but we and my sibs stood their faking it because we did not know the song or the movie. 🙂 I hope others will stop in to your blog & find what you’re up to!

  10. Athanasia permalink

    THE SOUND OF MUSIC is one of my favorite movies. I don’t remember when I first saw it, or MARY POPPINS, another favorite. I couldn’t have seen them when they first came out. I remember going to the theater with my mother and seeing DR ZHIVAGO and HELLO DOLLY. But I was in Jr high school then so must have been second run?

    Most of the movies we saw as children were at the public library on Saturday mornings in the winter. A parent would drive us in and we had to go up to the children’s section to secure a ticket as seating was limited. When it was time we lined up single file behind the librarian with warning to be as quiet as possible, the walked down the stairs past the adult section to the basement. There was a little theater with folding chairs and a screen and the reel to reel projector that clackety clacked all through the movie.

    Seems most of the movies we saw were based on books, like LITTLE WOMEN, DOG OF FLANDERS, THE SECRET GARDEN, WIND IN THE WILLOWS, HANS BRINKER AND THE SIVER SKATES, fairy tales, movies about animals were popular. My sister and I and girl cousins were the most likely to go. It depended on the movie for the boys to turn out. Our school town friends would meet us there.

    After we’d file up the two flight of stairs, quietly again, to go choose a week’s worth of books.

    • I never saw Mary Poppins in a theater–interesting that we missed that, but Dr. Zhivago was one of the first ones (maybe 3rd or 4th) I saw in a theater (with a date). I love your description and vivid memories of filing behind the librarian to go watch a movie in the public library. Obviously special times to have stuck in your memory with all those details. My children used to look at film strips in the library–not that we didn’t have videos then, but it was a throwback collection our library had and for something different, they’d flick through those little film strips. Thanks for digging up this little memory for me, too!

      • Athanasia permalink

        Film strips… how fun…I remember those from school. Our library used to have a collection of , I think this is the correct word…stereoscopic pictures. It was where there were two exact pictures side by side, but when you put them in the viewer they looked 3D. They were all old black and white pictures of mostly scenery and places around town. They don’t let people play with them anymore, now they are stored away.

  11. Judith Brenneman permalink

    Oh, Melodie, I so loved that photo of our bright, young Appalachian “teacher”. We share many of those Kentucky mountain Voluntary Service memories with you. We were so blessed to have met you there!

  12. Glad you found this, Judi! We need to have a reunion, don’t you think? My mother ran into someone recently at Greencroft in Goshen who had worked in Harlan as a nurse–not through the VS unit though, I don’t think. She was surprised! Have a good day!

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