By Debbie Shope
The clouds in New Hampshire have a fearsome beauty. The mountains themselves are magnificent and formidable, of course. But as I sit on a porch gazing across at Cannon Mountain, I witness a different spectacle: slowly, a silver gray colossus rises from beyond the mountain, gaining ground, slithering across entire ranges until my majestic view is completely enveloped in a misty shroud.
This week, I have come to respect the shroud as its own form of majesty.
These watery behemoths have been a fairly constant companion during our vacation in the mountains. For many people, that might spell disaster. You know the type. They believe mountains are for climbing. And I confess I have often taken that road, albeit slowly and painfully, myself. But this trip, our trekking has been kept to a minimum courtesy of our splendid, soggy companions whose presence provided a preponderance of precipitation 🙂 Basically, we stayed put in the cabin.
And I am incredibly grateful – not for the reasons you might think. We still had one day where we were able to walk sufficient miles for me to not ever want to wear shoes again. I am thankful because it forced me to slow down so much that I actually had time to just let my mind wander. This is something I used to enjoy regularly but which I have, sadly, almost forgotten how to do. Sad, because it is often in those wandering moments when God breaks through.
I spent a lot of time on the porch this week: reading, praying, watching, listening, and sometimes just allowing my mind to wander. I came into this week with a head full of yet-to-be-done work and projects and a heart full of tiredness, fear and sadness – some my own, much for dear friends and relatives, and some just for our world. As I began taking time to really “do nothing”, I started to have an unfamiliar, though pleasant, sensation. It took a while for me to actually identify it. What I was experiencing was hope. I realized that the darkness of my world had been creeping over and threatening to envelop me in the same way the clouds did the mountains. As the blue sky sometimes finds a crevice in the bank of gray to reveal itself, so was hope making itself known to my heart and mind. And along with hope, a reminder —
“In His great mercy, He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1 Peter 1)
“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.” (Psalm 62)
“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” (Hebrews 6)
I found part of a prayer I had written a couple of weeks ago in my Bible this week. It said: “…make my heart to tremble at your holiness, and to be stilled by your grace…” Sometimes God answers prayer with a cloud.