The beginning of human pride is to forsake the Lord; the heart has withdrawn from its Maker.
I am writing the blog this week from the top of Pitcher mountain in Stoddard. I’ve been climbing this little hill every summer for over 50 years. The ravages of the hurricane of 38 were long lasting, and the mountain had only low scrub on it when I was a kid. You could see for miles, even from the trail up the hill. But now, the trees are so thick you can’t see the view until you get to the top. A ranger used to spend the day in the fire tower, and you could go up and talk to him and look through his binoculars. Now the tower is run electronically by huge radio dishes, sonar and computers. The biggest change this year is the row of new, beautiful, white windmills over in Antrim, standing still like sentinels along a ridge, ready to produce clean electricity when they finally begin turning upon completion.
For decades, I’ve watched the world change from this mountaintop. I’ve watched leaves bud, bloom and fall, berries ripen, birds migrate. It’s a place I have marked and noticed over the gradual changes that you don’t notice day to day. This place also marks the seasons of my own life. When I am up here, I can still hear the NH accent of that old ranger, who used to love to tell me the story of how he called the fire department ‘right quick’ when he saw our cabin down on Island Pond go up in flames in 1963. I can see my dad in his jeans and a while t-shirt with a coffee can around his neck picking blueberries, trying to cheerfully convince me that we haven’t been up here all that long and we still want to get a few more quarts, and I can taste the warm and squashed (why were they always squashed?) peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwiches my mother always packed. I can see my younger self, sitting over there in what was my favorite spot, finding quiet and solace in this familiar spot as i made some huge and life changing choices. And I can still see and hear my children climbing these boulders and playing in the water that pools in the rocks. There are some little children up here playing on those rocks today just like I used to 50 years ago. Just like my own children did. Just like one day maybe my grandchildren will.
From this spot I can see all the way to Massachusetts and Vermont on a clear day like this. I can see Lempster, where I once lived, with Mt. Sunapee beyond it in the distance. I always marvel, looking at that distant mountain, at how my sister and I once backpacked from the top of Mount Sunapee all the way to this very spot, following the Monadnock Sunapee trail, wilderness camping along the way. We’d intended to to go all the way to Mt. Monadnock, but, well, after 5 days, we were ready to just walk down to Island Pond and jump into the water and then sleep in a bed instead.
Pitcher Mountain is one of the two natural places on earth (The other one is Kittery Point Beach) that most right sizes me. Here I remember the passage of time, see far into the distance and feel in my bones that there’s something much bigger than I am. I feel very close to God on this mountain.
It is easy to allow life sweep me up in to-do lists, busy schedules and day to day demands. But time expands exponentially whenever I can take a little time to put my life into the wider context of God. Daily prayer, visits to grounding places, and just taking time to listen - these are all very helpful in keeping me from withdrawing my heart from my maker, as the psalm describes it. Having even subtle pride in my own importance, busy-ness or accomplishments forsakes the role of my creator. So I am grateful to have this afternoon to be still and know that God is God.
This Sunday’s readings are HERE. Note that during ordinary time, we are using the readings from Track 2.