Drawn to the Mountains

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Today in Echallens, we’re having a good hard rain.  I’ve even heard a rumble or two of thunder.  I’m really enjoying looking out the window from my spot on the couch.  Sara Groves is playing on the stereo, a cinnamon candle is burning, my stomach is full, my homework is done, and a stack of books awaits me.

The weather was gorgeous again this weekend.  Last week was rough—really rough.  Nothing bad happened; in fact, everything that happened was good.  It’s just that so much happened.  I made it to the weekend exhausted, nothing left to give.

So much for homework on Saturday, I thought.  I could barely eat breakfast, and despite the exhaustion, I couldn’t fall back asleep.  So I took a walk.  A long walk.  And I thought about how much this landscape has changed for me.

In the fall, I would walk in these fields to remind myself of the prairie.  If I positioned myself just right, the mountains would disappear from view behind the rolling hills, and only the sky’s soft-spoken distance reminded me that I wasn’t on the prairie: On the prairie, the sky is colourful and bold, getting what seems quite close to the ground; here, I find the sky not only more distant but also much more softly-coloured.

Saturday, the mountains disappeared for a moment as I passed between two hills.  Instead of breathing a sigh of relief, I walked more quickly until I could see the mountains again.  Why?  I’ve come to really love the mountains, especially the Jura.  They don’t feel like they’re hemming me in anymore.  Now, I find myself drawn to them—quite literally.  As I took off my coat after the first hour of walking, I thought, If I had a backpack with water, food, and my train pass, I think I’d try walking to the mountains.  I think I could do it.  I think I will do it sometime this spring.

These next three weeks are going to be insane.  But I feel ready, in an odd way.  I was really fortunate to have a weekend of good rest and encouragement from my church.  By God’s grace, I’ll make it through these next few weeks; it won’t be by my own strength, but I have confidence in my Lord!

On Saturday morning, I walked through the fields reading through Psalm 42 and meditating on the verses.

As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my food day and night,
while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?”
These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival.
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.
My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you
from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls;
all your breakers and your waves have gone over me.
By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.
I say to God, my rock: “Why have you forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”
As with a deadly wound in my bones, my adversaries taunt me,
while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?”
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

And then in Isaiah, there’s this lovely passage about the covenant God has made with His people.  He describes His promise to bring His people into His perfect peace and righteousness.  How comforting these promises are!

“For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed,
but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,

and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,”
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.
“O afflicted one, storm-tossed and not comforted,
behold, I will set your stones in antimony,
and lay your foundations with sapphires.
I will make your pinnacles of agate,
your gates of carbuncles,
and all your wall of precious stones.
All your children shall be taught by the Lord,
and great shall be the peace of your children.
In righteousness you shall be established;
you shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear;
and from terror, for it shall not come near you.”

—Isaiah 54:10-14

The rain is still beating on the window and the wind is blowing stronger.  I’m thinking about a cup of cocoa and some books . . . oh, how I’m looking forward to this spring!  It should be a lovely one; on my walk yesterday afternoon in the rain with a friend, we saw spring bulbs that not only have started growing, but have even started blooming!

In his song You Don’t Know How Beautiful You Are, Jon Foreman takes a page out of C.S. Lewis’ essay “The Weight of Glory” and speaks of Heaven—the fulfilment of God’s covenant with His people—as an immersion in Beauty Himself.  There may be more philosophy in that idea than I can handle on a Monday afternoon, but the lyrics of the song have come back to me several times this weekend, especially these:

Future gardens
From all this rain
Future flowers
From present pain
We’re bound together
And our lives are bound to change
You don’t know how beautiful you are

And all the ashes
From all these dreams
I’ve seen the beauty
Of fallen leaves
Someday maybe we’ll find out what it means
You’ll find out how beautiful you are

Yes, on Saturday I was definitely scared of these next three weeks.  But since, I’ve been much encouraged.  Once again, the Church has come through in the way she’s supposed to—not only did I receive encouraging texts from sisters in Christ, but on Sunday, we had our monthly potluck and shared hours of uplifting conversation.  What a blessing to be joined in fellowship with these beautiful Christian siblings!

And one of these days, I’ll go out on a walk in these fields—perhaps with a brother or sister or two along—and I’ll walk all the way to the Jura mountains.  Google tells me it would take just over four hours to make it to the base.  To me, that sounds like a beautiful time of prayer and praise in God’s creation.

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