I’ve been using the UCC liturgy for the Season of Creation, this year. Every year for the last six years,I’ve thought to myself, “That would be fun to do!” and every year the fall season is upon me faster than I’d anticipated, and I wind up putting the Season of Creation ideas aside, and sticking with the lectionary readings. So I have to say I’m giving myself a bit of a pat on the back this year for jumping right in.
This past Sunday, there was a theme around listening to the intellect of Creation, in “mountaintop” moments. The readings speak of those ‘thin’ places: the places where heaven and earth seem to meld.
Coincidentally, it was also the week when my daughter Marla forwarded to me a link to a news story from the Ottawa Valley: the theme park that she and her sister were taken to every summer, is up for sale. Now, Storyland is not quite on the same level of sophistication as Disneyworld, or MarineLand, or any of those multi-gajillion dollar complexes. No. Storyland is pretty… um… rudimentary.
In what is admittedly a beautiful woodland setting, you walk past large reproductions of storybook characters. There’s a huge rabbit. There’s a cottage with Goldilocks and the Three Bears. There’s Red Riding Hood. There’s … well, I can’t even remember who else. And the thing is, they are, I’m sad to say, grotesque. Really awful. But the kids love them! They run from exhibit to exhibit, squealing with glee. So it makes for a nice summer outing, bringing the kids and a brown bag lunch, and letting them enjoy the day.
For me, the thing that made it worthwhile (apart from the kids’ pleasure) was the view. You climb and climb and climb, averting your eyes from the storybook scenarios and tableaux, and when you get to the top, the view is breathtaking. At a simple lookout point, equipped with a guard rail, a telescope, and not much else, you can see out over hundreds of miles of the Ottawa Valley. You can see the Ottawa River, wending its way “up the line”. You can see the Outouais region of western Quebec- Quyon, Shawville, and environs. On a clear day, it seems you can see almost to eternity.
This is what it feels like when I am in a mountaintop moment with God. It feels as though I’m close enough to God that the veil has been stripped away. The distractions of the world fade from my eyes and ears, and God’s wishes and will are uncluttered by the visions of the world. And it seems as though I can see eternity.
We all have our mountaintop moments. Each one of you has places where the veil gets lifted, and God’s presence is imminent. This time of the year, as we get back into our autumn routines, it may feel more difficult to find time alone on the mountain. Between getting back to school routines, starting up meetings and group studies, adjusting to less light in the day, it can be a real challenge. But if we remember the example of Jesus, who went to the mountains, or the desert, or wherever he needed to be for “alone” time, it may be easier to remind ourselves of the importance of finding time to be with God.
My prayer today, as the seasons fade from summer to autumn, that your mountaintop moments may come to you and find you and entice you into contemplation of your relationship to the divine and the sacred in your lives. May the veil be lifted, if only for a moment, and may God’s love lift you to new heights.