“When trouble strikes, head to the library. You will either be able to solve the problem, or simply have something to read as the world crashes down around you.” Lemony Snickett
When trouble hits, head to the mountains! There you will either be able to clear your mind enough to solve your problem, or find a place of peace in an uncertain world.
St. Patrick used to retreat to “Croagh Patrick” – Patrick’s Mountain – to commune with God, spending 40 days fasting there at one time. It is now the sight of regular pilgrimages, particularly on the last Sunday of July when thousands climb the mountain.
Mountains are considered “thin” places, meaning the veil between the natural world and the spiritual world is thinner in these places. For the early Hebrews, they were places to encounter God.
Psalm 125 is a psalm of confident trust, a psalm of orientation according to Brueggemann’s classifications. The writer looks at the mountains that surround Jerusalem and feels safe and protected. “As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about his people, from this time forth and for evermore.” (2)
According to this psalm, there are two types of people, the righteous, who trust in the Lord: “For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest upon the land allotted to the righteous.” (3a); and the wicked: “But those who turn aside upon their crooked ways the Lord will lead away with evildoers!” (5) The writer prays that God will do good to those who are righteous, “Do good, O Lord, to those who are good, and to those who are upright in their hearts!” (4)
His is a confident faith that is not shaken. “Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides for ever.” (1) Not only is God compared to mountains, God’s people are compared to a Mount Zion.
In a world that is full of trouble and uncertainty, God’s love prevails. God is strong as a mountain, unshakeable in his love for his people. Resting in God’s arms, we are safe and protected.
In America we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with parades, parties and excessive drinking. Why not celebrate in the true spirit of the saint by taking some time on God’s holy mountain, time in prayer and fasting as we reflect on God’s great love for his people?
How are you celebrating St. Patty’s Day this year? Are you able to rest in God’s loving embrace?