By Laurel Pattenden
Many Canadians enjoy the opportunity to go hiking during the summer months.
We are drawn to wooded trails in the wilderness, or groomed trails in our parks. The adventurous amongst us might seek rock climbing or mountain climbing.
I am not that adventurous! In fact, when I think of mountain climbing, my mind tends to focus on Julie Andrew’s singing “Climb Every Mountain”, and picturing her spinning like a whirling dervish on the grassy hills. My adventure would lean more to the “forge every stream” line in the song! No need for me to reach any summit to enjoy the view of an eagle. No need for me to have that type of mountain-top experience. I wonder what draws people to climb a mountain?
Jesus frequented the mountains. He met temptation on a mountain, fed the five thousand on a mountain, was transfigured on a mountain, taught and commissioned the disciples on a mountain.
I think if we were quizzed by someone about Jesus and mountains, many of us would think of the Sermon on the Mount. Where Jesus was sitting with his disciples, teaching and instructing them. What do you think the disciples thought during this long discourse of instruction? While they listened do you think they felt blessed, salty, beacons of light and humble in their piety?
After many, many months of the Covid 19 pandemic, I’m not feeling all that blessed and definitely not all that salty. My light has certainly dimmed if not totally extinguished some days.
How about you? Is your light under a bushel basket? Your prayers languishing in the pandemic fog or fatigue?
This summer, I think I could be drawn up a mountain. Not any mountain, but that mountain where Jesus sat, to hear the words he spoke, to listen to that sermon. Not for the sake of a mountain climbing adventure, but for the adventure of hearing the words of Jesus. To hear the blessings, and see them falling on the heads and hearts of the poor in spirit, those who are mourning, the meek amongst us, those of us thirsty for righteousness, the pure-hearted, and peacemakers. To hear, see, and feel those blessings, the beatitudes of Jesus, fall upon all of us.
The fatigue and weariness of this pandemic has dissolved our saltiness. To have the words of Jesus spoken within earshot to remind us again of our saltiness. To hear his words to boost our light; to take it out from under a basket of tiredness.
This summer, I could be drawn up that mountain. To hear this sermon of Jesus. I think that the priorities of the pandemic are the priorities touched on in this sermon. The Lord’s prayer, praying for God’s kingdom and our daily bread, is a perfect pandemic prayer. Hearing Jesus’ compassion in saying “So do not worry about tomorrow” would help us to contain, limit and ground our worry. Being guided to release our judgements of our neighbours’ behaviour during the pandemic. Being made aware of our own behaviour during this time of the pandemic. The needed spoken words of the Sermon on the Mount are needed to be heard again.
Yes, this summer, I could be drawn up that mountain. Bare foot. To sit on holy ground. To listen to the sermon. To hear the words of Jesus. Priorities during a pandemic.
Laurel is retired and likes to spend her time in her art studio.
(Illustration: Laurel Pattenden, MANY FEATHERS, Ink and markers)