In the summer of 2003, Sister Abby Newton and I went on a trek with a friend (that I just saw recently), Carolyn Mucelli. Because of timing and other issues, we never made it quite to the tippity-top of Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the 48 contiguous states. But we did hike the 99 switchbacks that took us to the crest of the Sierras, named Trail Crest, at 13,777 feet above sea level. The picture below shoes Abby and myself at Trail Camp with Mt. Whitney behind us.
I love these Advent readings that we find this First Week of Advent. Today’s reading from Isaiah reminds me that there is something within us that creates a desire to climb the heights – to stretch ourselves. In our imagination, we put God at the top of the mountain, and then try to reach that summit where God lives. We forget, too often, that God lives within . . . within me and within you.
It is great to get into the outdoors . . . into nature . . . and to hike within the beauty of creation. Our spirits soar. But to find God, the only mountains I need to climb are within myself. And, believe me, the switchbacks wind round and round! My prayer and hope this Advent is that we will find the courage and fortitude to continue on the journey of climbing the heights to find our God . . . who lives within. We may finally find ourselves there as well.
And may we be kind to our companions on the journey. We never when they may find themselves in a difficult pass.
This is what Isaiah, son of Amoz,
saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
In days to come,
The mountain of the Lord’s house
shall be established as the highest mountain
and raised above the hills.
All nations shall stream toward it;
many peoples shall come and say:
“Come, let us climb the Lord’s mountain,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
That God may instruct us in his ways,
and we may walk in God’s paths.”
For from Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
God shall judge between the nations,
and impose terms on many peoples.
They shall beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks;
One nation shall not raise the sword against another,
nor shall they train for war again.
O house of Jacob, come,
let us walk in the light of the Lord!