Mist and Mountain Views

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“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1-2

The Blue Mountains, the Moresby Ranges and now the Coast Mountains in Vancouver – each of my homes has had a ‘mountain’ view. As the pattern began to reoccur I remembered these verses from Psalm 121, and I often think of them now as I look out the window, sitting at my desk in the lounge room, still in awe of the privilege of being so close to Canada’s snow covered majesties.

But the thing about Vancouver in winter is, sometimes you can’t see the mountains. The rain clouds or fog descends, and when you look up the view has gone. There have been times in this season when that seems to ring true both climatically and emotionally. Sometimes when we look up to the hills, needing their strength, needing them to direct our gaze to the God who made heaven and earth – all we see is a fog, clouds blocking the horizon. Indefinite, transient, they softly (but firmly) block the view, taking with it our perspective and wonder.

In that moment it is hard to remember that which is beyond our vision – it is hard to have “assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). Behind what we can see, beyond the limits of our vision, there are still mountains. On these cloudy days it takes faith just to believe in them, let alone believe we can move them … but they are there. Solid, foundational, just like the One who promises that we can look to them and seek His help. We turn and wrestle to remember His past faithfulnesses.

And then, one day, the cloud lifts. The sun (Son?) shines and we are again overwhelmed with their glory, reminded of their testimony, given renewed hope. Sometimes we can even carve out time for mountain top experiences. We leave town, take a day and immerse ourselves in their heights and glories. We are restored to the truth of the mountains, their beauty helps to make us whole again as they witness to the One who makes both them and us. Although they outstrip our tiny frames completely – they enlargen us, telling the bigness of a God who makes wide, spacious places and calls us to into them, to dwell, to rest.

It seems that this is the season for lifting my eyes and trying to live in the spacious places. A season for wondering at the view.

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Photo credit: Asher Graieg-Morrison

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Gifts given

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“… What do you have that you did not receive? … ” (1 Corinthians 4:7b)

Not much really! I have been musing about the idea of sacrament, ceremony and celebration recently. Thinking about the way that God made a good world, full of good things that should remind us to turn our gaze to Him in gratitude. About formalising our thanks in ceremony. About expressing and sharing our thanks in celebration.

I have been thinking about creation and Eucharist, about feasting and joy, about thankfulness. About a good world, about bread. About cake and friends to share it with. About delight and welcome. These are the threads I am beginning to trace as I learn God’s word. I am beginning to see the story about a world made in love, about good gifts given. About a King and a feast, about coming home to dinner. About fullness of life, about joy, not fear. Oh, I want to be able to tell that story. I want to tell it with loaves of bread baked in precious new pots. I want to tell it with Funfetti cake topped with butter cream frosting and sprinkles.  I want to tell it slowly and carefully and with great joy.

The psalmist tells us that “He withholds no good thing …” Psalm 84:11 and I know it to be true. Sometimes the gifts are extra special though. This last week I was given a beautiful blue le Creuset pot, heavy with the hope of bread to break and dinners to share. Newly arrived in Vancouver, only few months ago, I had also been given an preloved Kitchenaid mixer and then, last week, the bowl finally arrived. Talk about stuff being sacred – my heart and my kitchen are full! So I baked in thanks. I baked basic-bread and a party-cake. The stuff of life and the stuff of celebration. I think we need both. We need the reminder that our earthy bodies are nourished both by the earth, and by the One who offers us Himself, the true Bread of Life. And once we have remembered, we need to gather and celebrate His Goodness and His abundant welcome.

Piece of cake, anyone?!