Last fall, when we hiked to the crest of a misty mountain in the Scottish Highlands, our women’s retreat group stood riveted by the view. Standing in the clouds, we watched the weather change right before our eyes. Fog cleared, and we spied portions of Applecross Bay a mile or so beneath us.
We’d hiked up a very long, gravelly service road to reach our destination. I’d stopped periodically to look back, see how far we’d trekked, stack some rocks (a cairn), and catch my breath.
Upon arrival, a few of us got busy snapping photos. When the fog immediately lifted from our elevated surroundings, we were giddy moving about on the rocky terrain. Then a hush came over us as we beheld the panoramic patchwork of wild beauty surrounding the remote peninsula of Applecross. The clearing also made us realize, we were standing mere feet from the edge of a very steep cliff. Cautiously, some of us peered down over the deep slope; the dangerous, rocky ravines. “Danger” signs and guard rails were warranted, but there were no such safety measures. We giggled uncomfortably, then stepped backward enough paces to ensure our safety on solid ground.
I turned completely around to behold the splendid 360 degree view.
The landscape blended into something akin to an artist’s rendering: greens, golds, browns and rusts; untouched rolling, ancient hills. When a splendid stag appeared on the ledge across from us, we were in awe all over again. This was his home. Could have been in New Zealand or even Austria; this was Scotland at her finest.
Momentarily, our group gathered together, and agreed to our sole purpose: to simply take time to ourselves on this mountain, in total silence.
We spread apart, each of us claiming an acre or so of the expansive crest.
I parked myself on a slight mound, and earthy seat, waiting for my mind to slow down from the shared exhilaration; for my spirit to simply quiet and just behold the grandeur of the surroundings. Without binoculars, I squinted when I spied some brave hikers directly across from me in the distance.
Next, I waited. For what, I wasn’t sure. I just waited. My eyes and ears became like a panoramic video camera. I tried imagining this ancient land’s beginnings.
The air freshened my lungs as I meditated on God’s unfathomable power. I gently, methodically started into the four steps of prayer: adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication. My eyes filled with tears. The scope of His magnificent creation beckoned me to witness with more than just my five senses…
I became like a new person after my trip to the highlands.
Now, at home in West Virginia, in the familiar pace of normal life, it becomes a challenge to rise above life in the valley, when Scotland and all of her stillness seem so far away.
If it’s true, that everything in nature has a spiritual component, then we are wise to reread the challenge Christ gave to us in the gospel of Mark, chapter 4, verses 35-41, and humbly bow to His dominion over all creation.
On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side.” Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”
Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!
When was the last time you fasted from the noise and distractions of life?
What opens up as purposeful can become a heavenly ritual. Like Jesus, sometimes we find ourselves surrounded by hysterics. When we can literally go to the mountain to pray, it can be surreal in its serenity. But when we can’t, He will bring the mountain stillness down to us, wherever we find ourselves.