A Moment to Reflect

30 July 2020

A Moment to Reflect -75


Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens,
    your faithfulness to the skies.
Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
    your justice like the great deep.
  Psalm 36:5-6

“When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.” ― Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

I have taken lots of photographs of mountains in various places around the world, but I know the names of very few of them. This one I do know. It is Mount Mulanje, pictured here soaring above the bright-green tea plantation I visited in 2015. (The Mulanje region is a great tea growing area.) Mulanje is the highest mountain in Malawi reaching up to a height of 9,849 feet. (3002m)

By the way, did you know that Mount Mulanje is a monadnock? And do you have any idea what on earth a ‘monadnock’ is?

Well, let me enlighten you…

Basically it means a mountain that stands on its own. (Other names for a ‘monadnock’ include ‘inselberg,’ ‘bornhardt’ and ‘island-peak’—though there are subtle differences between each of these terms.)

But it also refers to the way in which the isolated mountain was formed. Most mountain ranges were formed when the tectonic plates of the earth crashed against each other, causing the earth’s crust to buckle and fold upwards—like the bonnets of two cars crumpling in a head-on collision. Some isolated mountains are volcanos created by eruptions from below the earth’s crust.

A monadnock, however, is formed in an entirely different way—through erosion

Over long, long periods of time, the softer rocks and soils are eroded away, leaving the harder rock behind. So, a monadnock is a bit like ‘the last man standing.’ It is what is left, what remains, what is still solid, after the time of erosion and destruction. 

I’ve been thinking about this a lot over these past months.

When the worst of the pandemic crisis is over (whenever that might be) what will be so eroded that it will be lost altogether and what will remain? What will still be standing?

Similar questions arise in my mind when I think of so many of the political upheavals going on at the present time around the world, accompanied by so much hatred and violence, so much deception and injustice. What of worth will be left standing?

And what about the Church? So much of what has made up our congregational life, our worship, our fellowship together, has been stripped away by necessary physical distancing and other restrictions—after all this erosion, what will be left standing when we can get back together again?

Time alone will tell. In the meantime, however, the Psalmist reminds us that, no matter what happens to anything else, God’s love, faithfulness and righteousness will continue to stand like the highest of mountains soaring to the sky, and God’s unfathomable yet perfect justice will remain underneath it all.