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The spot for the good news, the good word, the quick reports of the many, many wonderful news items I hear all the time and want to share with the rest of you. Expect to find the good news when you come to check out "what’s the good word?"

Monday, March 7, 2011

Mountains

Once upon a time, in ancient Israel, there existed a great debate. The central question was, "Where is the right place to encounter and worship God?" Originally the ancient, nomadic Hebrews probably all agreed that the best place was in the mountains. After all, that was where Moses went to talk to God, and where the Mosaic law was delivered, or at least the Ten Commandments. When it came to finding God, the Mountains were clearly where it was at!

Over time, however, the people became more and more urbanized, and by the time King David made Jerusalem his capital, many people recognized a need for a local temple where the sacred objects such as the Arc of the Covenant could be held. These were ancient and sacred symbols that were very closely associated with the Divine Presence. While King David was never able to build a temple in Jerusalem, his son Solomon did accomplish that feat. Over time, the temple in Jerusalem became ensconced as the place where not only the sacred objects were held, but God was thought to dwell there in person. It was here that people came to worship.

Still the debate continued, however, and over time, the priests who served in the temple began to discredit the mountain shrines as inappropriate. By the time Jesus came along, those in Jerusalem considered those who went to the mountains to be religious outcasts; not true Hebrews at all. In time, given the passing of enough years and sufficient tragedy, the debate was largely abandoned.

In Trail, British Columbia, however, there is an Anglican Priest who seems to have decided that the matter is not at all settled. Reverend Neil Elliot is a pastor who recently completed his PhD in…are you ready…snowboarding. That’s right, snowboarding! Reverend Elliot is a snowboarder, who testifies that he has experienced the transcendent while carving trails in fresh powder in the mountains. Further more, in exploring this matter with others, he soon discovered that he is not alone. It seems there are many boarders who have experienced times of spiritual opening in the mountains.

Now at this point I should confess that the connection between the mountain experience of the ancient Hebrews and Pastor Elliot probably exists only in my head…or does it? You can read more about Neil Elliot and his Doctoral thesis by clicking here. Then you decide what the connection is.

President Stephen Veazey has been known to go to a Tennessee River to fish and be alone with God. Mother Teresa found her connection on the streets of Calcutta. Is there any reason why snowboarders should not experience transcendence while gliding down a snow-covered mountain?

What about you? Where do you go to experience the sacred Presence?

Posted by Carman

7 comments:

  1. I like the Celtic metaphore that instructs that the veil between heaven and earth is merely 3 feet, and in certain places and during certain times, there are "thin places" where we are particularly close to God. I think these mountaintops, rivers and snowy hills are thin places.

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  2. I like that metaphor as well. I suspect the 3 foot thick veil is is all within our skulls, however. Fortunately it gets thinner once in a while. :)

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  3. I agree with Pastor Eliott. Having just returned from Switzerland, I have a new appreciation for the mountains. How can you not experience God as you view the world from 7600 feet? Majestic doesn't begin to describe it. Also, we prayed like crazy as we skied down those intimidating slopes and thanked God for seeing us safely home. Oh yes, mountains are sacred space.
    Marilyn

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  4. What lovely thoughts and images. It makes me smile. Thank you for sharing your Mountain experience with the rest of us.

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  5. I have had many close experiences with God on the paths of Ziontario and any place where I see the beauty of nature when my heart is open and my thoughts are focused on him. We just came back from Florida where I had another beautiful experience...sitting on the balcony over looking the Gulf of Mexico breathing in the beauty of God's creation. I began to pray the Jesus prayer, a spiritual practice found in the Daily Bread. I felt very strongly the presence of Jesus and heard him speak to me. Those words of council have been so helpful. Yes God is often in church but he is very accessible in his beautiful creation.

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  6. My moments with God include when I "polish" the apples that I put in the snack bins at the school where I am the nutrition program co-ordinator. I intentionally stand in the hallway that stretches the entire length of the school. From my vantage point I can see all that is happening in the hallway of this great place where some 350+ students receive the first taste of their formal education. There has been times that the spirit has prompted me to say a prayer for a student or educator who seems to be having a particular tough moment. I also find myself contemplating my trials and trbulations while I "polish" these apples. It also helps in maintaining the quality control with the product that is given to the students.

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  7. Thank you Carole and Kathy both for your contributions to this discussion. Interesting contrast between a balcony on the gulf of Mexico and a school hallway polishing apples. It truly seems God really can be found anywhere!

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