I am writing this article on my April study leave. We have turned the second bedroom in the timeshare condo into a temporary office with my computer on a table in front of a window. I am in the Shenandoah Valley with a view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. After 2 days of bright blue skies, today features a haze over the mountains and clouds gathering. Just beautiful!
These mountains are old and covered with old forest rather than craggy and stark like those newer upstart mountains in other parts of the country. Oh, they are beautiful, too, but with a different kind of beauty – rugged and challenging, almost daring humans to try to get around or over them. These old mountains speak to my soul of wisdom and depth.
To be honest, I had absolutely no idea what to write to you this month. There is a lot going on in our faith community through our many ministries and in looking ahead to where God is calling us to go. My head is swirling with questions about worship themes and scriptures to explore over the next 6 to 8 months. And all I seem to be doing in relation to this newsletter is gazing at the beauty of the mountains.
Presumably, on a day not much different from the one several thousand years ago, a young shepherd sat on a hillside like this one, taking care of his father’s sheep. I wonder what he had encountered that day when he was inspired to write:
I lift up my eyes to the hills—
from where will my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
Was he tired, struggling to stay awake? Had he been forced to drive away a predator from the sheep the night before? Was it blisteringly hot and had he run out of water? Was he thinking about a time when a thief crept in during the night? I don’t know.
What I do know is that when I gaze at these mountains, I am reminded of my grandparents whose love was bedrock for me, who drew strength from their home place in the mountains, who were assured like David was – that the mountains witnessed to the steadfast love and care of God.
Sometimes I just need to stop and gaze at mountains that speak to me of God and help me to find God’s presence. That’s a pretty good way to start a week of study and worship planning. I’m very grateful!
Be still and know God today!