When we keep looking at the mountain of struggle, we can feel crushed, but when we know someone greater than the mountain is with us, we can find the help we need. Mountains move when we meditate on Gods goodness.
Where I live, I’m surrounded by mountains. They’re not very high mountains. The highest peak is only 196 meters high and has the name Mt. Eden and is a dormant volcanic cone.
The highest mountain I have been up to is Pikes Peak near Colorado Springs. At 4302 meters it’s so high that the breathing is difficult, but the views are fantastic.
A Mountain can be imposing
When you go to a place where there are many mountains it can be imposing.
The noise of our world will never fully satisfy, but when we learn how to listen for whispers, we find a safe place for the soul.
I wonder when the first sound was made? Was it a big bang or the quietest of whispers. As the sound waves vibrated out, what was heard? Who heard it?
Here in New Zealand, it is believed that the earliest of migrants would have heard the lands existence before seeing it. Such was the abundance of birdlife. Much of that life force is gone now, but even as I write this on a sunny deck, I can hear some of the native birds singing to me.
I hear whispers of God in the throat of a Tui, the whoosh of a Keruru flying by, and the flitting movements of a Fantail dancing in the sun.
The shame of an attempt at suicide can cling onto you like the odor of some dirty old socks. You would do anything to get rid of that stench. Is that a good description of shame?
That feeling of embarrassment at what you have done. You want to hide, run, cover it up, but it’s still there. Those smelly old socks still stink.
Recently I was asked a question by one of the readers of Turning the Page about how to help someone who had recently attempted suicide. In the midst of their crisis, they had posted their intentions out on Social Media. Now they had a deep sense of shame and embarrassment. They feared that people would treat them differently.
‘Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never harm me’ is a fallacy.
Words can hurt. They can cut right to the core of your being and can echo around and around in your mind and drive you to despair.
Just think of the abuse of text bullying. A few choice words here and there, and cuts are made to the heart and maybe to the skin. I wonder how many suicides and suicide attempts have a few words as the catalyst of destruction.
A barrage of abuse on a weakened spirit can break the will to go on. Words like nails are hammered into your psyche.
I think of Jesus and the barrage of words rained down upon him in his trial. Matthew 26.
Words can drown out life.
Words can also be the soothing balm needed on a wounded heart.
Little phrases like
Well done Thank you You’re going to make it I’m going to help you
I am with you
Words and gestures from ‘Big people’ in your life. That older person, that person with the street cred, mana, wisdom, grey hair. That one, for reasons unknown to yourself, who just whispers to the heart ‘you’re going to be ok’.
I listen to many words through a range of podcasts.
I discovered Nadia Bolz-Weber on the Podcast Onbeing where she was interviewed by the host Krista Tippet.
In the podcast Nadia states these words.
I have this thing about being a preacher who reveals things about herself, and it’s that I always try to preach from my scars and not my wounds. So, talking about depression is not in any way a wound for me.
When I heard this I felt connected with her journey, her depression, wounds and scars.
So I created a meme, and now it has been my most repined image on Pinterest.
Why has this been so incredibly popular?
I think that the image grabs you because it’s a real person, like us. Not some model, superstar or icon, and yes I know they are real too.
The words I think touch down on some core pain points. Our wounds and our scars.
They give us a sense of hope that wounds can, in time, become scars. That we don’t have to be stuck as wounded forever and that out of those battles there can come a gift.
For Nadia Bolz – Weber, as a pastor, the gift is preaching. For others it could writing, singing, teaching, listening etc…
What is your gift?
Today I listened to a an interview with Rob Bell. He was talking about a time where he was speaking in Miami and a women in the audience stood up and asked this question.
What do you say to somebody whose young daughter has just died from a mysterious illness that only a few people get. What do you say to me, because I have just lost my daughter.
I said first off in the ancient wisdom tradition in some suffering there are no words, there’s silence.
So first off I would begin with that any one that does give you nice clear-cut answers for why your daughter died, I don’t know.
Secondly I do know this, that some point down the road your going to meet up with a women who has also lost her young daughter and your going to look at her in the eyes and your going to say ‘me too’ and in that moment that you’ll be standing on some holy ground. Solidarity is divine. When someone stands with you.
Here is what happens. The woman standing next to her starts gushing and says ‘My young daughter is really sick and they have only given her a little bit of time to live and this woman turns to her. Rob Bell – How to Practice and Understand Faith and Spirituality
Suicidal thoughts, feelings, and a desire to die can become overwhelmingly strong. But you can help people to move through this. You can learn how to help.
They reach out to you for help.
You have noticed your best friend, family member, or workmate being more withdrawn than usual. They have had a huge disappointment recently, a redundancy, a relationship breakdown, and even though on the outside they seem fine, you sense that something is not quite right.
It was a shadow, in the background, going unnoticed.
It was a Shadow of Light.
Weird really, but a shadow it was. You couldn’t touch it but it was surely there.
Light normally fills a the dark room, creating the shadows, but this was different. It was a Shadow of Light in my very very dark places.
It wasn’t bright neon ‘impossible to look at’ light, it was more ‘just there’. Dim and warm, soft and inviting.
Well it was inviting to me, but to those whose hearts and eyes had been conditioned to the darkness it was something to pushed to the back of the room. Into the corner, out of sight, and definitely out of mind.
It just watched, silently and sadly at the darkness of thought and motive. Its image bearer hands glowing softly. Rope marked torn hands were clenched in fists that once held whip.
Shadow of Light moved a step forward then pulled back. It wasn’t time yet and I noticed a gentle restraining hand draped over the shoulder.
Why didn’t Shadow of Light act I wondered? Why the constraint in this time of pain?
I focused my eyes in on the throbbing gentle heartbeat of the Shadow. Then zoom, I was transported to his side. I leaned into listen. With the gentleness of a secure lover I felt an arm reach around behind me, gently pressing my head upon his chest.
This Shadow of light was now absorbing me into its image bearing self. A warmth was filling me that the darkness, the dirty, shameful, raping darkness could never rob away.
Do I want the shadow to intervene in the abuse of my soul? Yes, of course I do, but if it means for one moment that I could lose the sound of loves heartbeat then ‘No’ I would respond back.
There will come a time when Shadow of Light will banish every flicker of darkness away.
Till that day, I will secure myself knowing that there is a Shadow of Light walking beside me. No darkness can stick on me, no evil can define me, no abuse will ever shame my true identity.
I am a child of the ‘Shadow of Light’.
Perhaps my own Shadow of Darkness is being transformed by this Shadow of Light. Perhaps you are too.