There is something so majestic about mountains. We travelled home through my old dwelling place of Agassiz the other day, and as we drove into the valley we are greeted with this…
Mt. Cheam always moves me, and I gazed upon the beauty. We stopped the car and I took pictures, wanting to capture the moment. It was a beautiful day.
This is a mountain that captured my imagination as a child, it was the mountain that was the sentinel of our village in Harrison Hot springs, growing up, always there in the distance.
When I was fifteen I climbed this mountain, and it was a crazy day. Our youth group ignored any easy way up and climbed on the face-side, 12 miles up from the bottom. It was a hard climb. When we finally stepped over the loose shale that formed the peak, reaching the top, we had only minutes to enjoy our mountain top experience. It was exhilarating and I will never forget it. I think of it every time I see this mountain.
My dad also loved this mountain, but found a much easier path… up the back side, with logging roads part-way up. He and mother and a host of other travellers climbed this mountain year after year.
A few weeks after I climbed this mountain I was diagnosed with a very low thyroid, and low blood sugar. Looking back I could understand why coming down from that mountain was so excruciatingly hard, and I wasn’t sure I was going to make it. I was exhausted for days. And perhaps because of this, I have never desired to go again.
I think of the mountain top experiences of my life… and of the valleys. There is that gospel country song by Lynda Randle speaks of this:
“for the God on the mountain, is still God in the valley…
the God of the good times, is still God in the bad times
the God of the day, is still God in the night.”
I find that often after a “high” moment in my life, I can crash… and know I can’t sustain mountain top living. Rather I find God in the ordinary, the everyday. It is often in the hard times, the valley, that I learn the most.
When my first husband died, we buried him in a lovely cemetery in Hope, ironically called Mountain View Cemetery. It seemed appropriate to me that he would have a resting place there, in the shadow of Mt. Cheam. We had lived most of our lives close to this mountain, and experienced mountain top experiences as well as deep places of learning and shadows and grief.
So I looked to this mountain again on Saturday, and remembered. My soul is always stirred, and I come to these favourite words from Psalm 121: “I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
This is sustaining help, full of grace, and it fills me with hope.