Canto

Mountain Song

Qomolangma (Mount Everest).

I took this photo in September 2019, on the Tibetan side of the Himalayas. The tour guide told us that what we were seeing is rare: a full view of the mountain from foot to peak, without any cloud covering. God's blessing to us.

Some time ago, I received a vision from the Holy Spirit while worshipping in church. I was standing on a mountain peak taller than Qomolangma, above the cloud cover, looking at range upon range of mountains stretching in all directions. There was nothing but earth beneath me, and sky above me, and the presence of the Lord all around me. I looked at the mountains, and it seemed that I beheld them in their primordial, pre-Fall state: pristine mountains before man's foot tread on them, mountains that only beheld the face of God. I saw these pristine mountains between cloud and sky, and something in my heart ached with terrible longing.

"Lord, this is beautiful, so beautiful," I said.

The Holy Spirit said, "Behold."

And, from horizon to horizon, the mountains began to sing.

In church, I remember falling facedown on the ground, my body and soul reverberating with this titanic song. It was an undescribable experience, like beholding a vast beauty that exceeds human dimensions and comprehension. The song and the vision lasted only a short time, but even now I can hear/feel/sense the echo of it, and my soul aches again.

O God, when you restore creation, I want to come back to this place, and hear the mountains singing their ancient praises to you.

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements -- surely you know!
Or who has stretched the line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone,
when the morning stars sang together
and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

—Book of Job, ch. 38, v. 4-7

I bind unto myself today

The power of God to hold and lead
His eye to watch, His might to stay
His ear to hearken to my need

The wisdom of my God to teach
His hand to guide His shield to ward
The word of God to give me speech
His heavenly host to be my guard

The Mighty Three
My protection be
Encircling me
You are around
My life, my home
Encircling me
O sacred Three
The Mighty Three

 

"Encircling",
Iona, Journey Into the Morn (1996)
{x}

St Patrick's Breastplate

I arise today; Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity; Through a belief in the threeness; Through confession of the oneness; Of the Creator of Creation. [...]

Make no mistake: if He rose at all

it was as His body;
if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules
reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
each soft Spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled
eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as His flesh: ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes,
the same valved heart
that–pierced–died, withered, paused, and then
regathered out of enduring Might
new strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping, transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the
faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mâché,
not a stone in a story,
but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow
grinding of time will eclipse for each of us
the wide light of day.

And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair,
opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen
spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are
embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.

—"Seven Stanzas at Easter",
John Updike, 1960.

Φῶς Ἱλαρόν

Phôs hilaròn hagías dóxēs, athanátou Patrós,
       ouraníou, hagíou, mákaros, Iēsoû Christé,
   elthóntes epì tḕn hēlíou dýsin, idóntes phôs hesperinón,
       hymnoûmen Patéra, Hyión, kaì Hágion Pneûma, Theón.
   Áxión se en pâsi kairoîs hymneîsthai phōnaîs aisíais,
       Hyiè Theoû, zoḕn ho didoús, diò ho kósmos sè doxázei.

{x} {xx}

When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die. It may be a death like that of the first disciples who had to leave home and work to follow Him, or it may be a death like Luther’s, who had to leave the monastery and go out into the world. But it is the same death every time—death in Jesus Christ, the death of the old man at his call.

—Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

But how do you wake a man knocked cold by love? Because, as he told me later, that’s what it was: the electric unearned love of the great Creator, traveling like light down the nerves of the Reverend Johnny’s arms, crackling out the tips of his fingers. […] I can feel it still, that sizzling jump inside my organs. It didn’t feel good, not as I would’ve suspected the touch of the Lord might feel, but I wouldn’t say it felt bad either. It only felt powerful, like truth unhusked.

Peace Like a River, chapter 3
Leif Enger

You are not big enough to accuse the whole age effectively, but let us say you are in dissent. You are in no position to issue commands, but you can speak words of hope. Shall this be the substance of your message? Be human in this most inhuman of ages; guard the image of man for it is the image of God.

—Thomas Merton

Vega nightfishes in the Great Sky River. Copyright © 2021

Lingonberry by Anders Noren — Proudly Powered by BluditUp ↑