Bring Down the Mountain Stillness
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.
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Reading your comments this morning was a great way to end my personal “stillness”. How precious the time when we allow Jesus to bring His peace to us through stillness. His invitation, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place.” Mark 6:31
So true. He is our portion. Thank you Donna.
You pose a great question here: “When was the last time you fasted from the noise and distractions of life?” In November, I deleted the Facebook app from my phone, and ever since I’m only on Facebook maybe twice a week max. And it has been so refreshing to just be separated from the noise of life online and focus on the life, and people, right in front of me. That has been my mountain.
What a refreshing action you’ve taken! Love how when we seek that deep peace that passes understanding, our choices matter. Seeking Him can take us out of our comfort zone. Thank you!
How awesome to be able to sit in total silence on the mountain and be in God’s presence. Sometimes it’s so hard for me to just sit still and listen for His voice.
Beautiful story and really identified with your experience! Makes me think of Psalm 98:4 “Shout to the Lord,all the earth; break out in praise and sing for joy!” That was you on the mountain in Scotland Sarah!!
How true! God’s creation seems to be crying out to us when we are in awe of the beauty. Maybe Amelia Island will lend itself to a blessed encounter, too!
So true, Carol. Some days, I steal away from the family and head to a window. I just make a quick plea, like “Lord, I’m here. I know You hear me. I love You, need You, now.” But I long for the sustained peace that comes during a fast from the noise and pressures of everyday. I’ve been praying early mornings lately, tears streaming down my face from all the gratitude I feel, being here in Texas with the grandchildren for a few weeks. My cup runneth over. Miss you! And glad you’re enjoying the blog.
As you know, I’ve been “forced” into a physical stillness for a few weeks. I’m ashamed to say I’m not using it as wisely as I know I should. But I also know I don’t have to have a broken foot to find the stillness of soul. I always cherish meeting God in nature, but I’m so thankful I can meet him right here, too, whether my body is still or not.
Thinking of you during your enforced fast from activity, and praying God meets you right where you are, healing in the stillness. This too shall pass!
Beautiful. I ,too, felt a deep connection with Scotland…I wish I had been able to spend time alone and still on the mountains instead of the rush-rush we expereinced while there. Thanks, Sarah.
Sarah, How perfectly beautiful is God’s timing. First I loved your description of the mountains in Scotland. Hearing of your experience is a treasure. Being literally sick in bed and catching up on email I saw your sweet story. In the rare quiet and stillness of our multigenerational home, I am letting your words and His Word seep into my literally weary bones. (And it did not help that the steroid shot my doctor gave me to recover better on brought on a bathroom painting frenzy lol….sigh….) You are right, we can’t always get to a mountain to get away, however close out our windows some are, but we can usually take a few moments and a few steps into a time of fasting from the worlds chatter and listen ……to Him.
“Like Jesus, sometimes we find ourselves surrounded by hysterics. ” Oh my, that phrase brought our world into such an honest perspective. I, like you, enjoy, thirst for, schedule, time in God’s creation. I can be sitting perfectly still or walking down a path or even driving through it in my car. Just so I am near something that I have absolutely no control over creation calms my soul like none other. Thanks for that beautiful description of your experience in Scotland. It was a blessing to read and be reminded!!!