11 August 2020
A Moment to Reflect -78
“For all the jokes and complaints about the aches of air travel, it’s pretty marvellous, if you think about it.” ― Tsh Oxenreider, Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World
Well, I’m back! From my “holiday.” Not that I went very far, you realise. In fact, the longest trip I took throughout the week was to Wishaw to go to the bank.
In recent years, however (as many of you already know) I did undertake quite a lot of travelling— on considerably longer trips than a visit to Wishaw—and using various means of transport. Perhaps in some future reflections I’ll share some thoughts and memories of the places and people encountered on those journeys but in the meantime (for today at least) there was one other thing I wanted to say about mountains—though it is also in a way connected with flying. The photograph above was taken from a plane heading for Marco Polo Airport in Venice. Venice is one of my favourite places in the world; I don’t know when (or if) I’ll ever have the opportunity to visit it again but I’ve been there a few times so I shouldn’t be greedy.
The photograph above was taken in October 2007 (I didn’t have a very good camera then.) It shows the southern edge of the Alps just before you begin the descent.
The view of high mountains from above generates a different sense of wonder in me than the awe that I feel looking at mountains from below.
From below, the mountains seem intimidating and even in some cases insurmountable— engendering the same kind of feeling we may have when faced with some of life’s most difficult problems and obstacles. ‘I’ve never going to make it…’ ‘I can’t do it…’ etc
Yet, from above, from that elevated perspective, the mountains just look like wrinkled sheets of paper that you can imagine flattening out and smoothing over with your hand.
It’s a reminder to me that God always sees the bigger picture, what we simply cannot see from our lowly perspective. This is not to diminish in any way the depth or the reality of the things that cause us pain and suffering here and now, or the magnitude of the obstacles in our way that sometimes are insurmountable: it is simply to suggest that we never see the whole picture. Indeed we cannot.
It reminds me also of a quotation from the late Dag Hammerskjold (the second Secretary-General of the United Nations) who once said: “Never measure the height of a mountain until you reach the top. Then you will see how low it was.”
[Tragically, and perhaps ironically, Hammerskjold died in a plane crash in what was then called Northern Rhodesia, while on a UN peace-making visit to Congo]
But most of all it reminds me of the words of the Psalmist and his firm conviction that God watches over us from above …always …and forever.
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.
He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore. —Psalm 121