God on the Mountain: Reflections for this week

Acts of God … where God is and where God is not — reflections on natural disasters and the aftermath — mountain, wind, fire, quake and silence: themes from 1 Kings. Where do you find ‘acts of God’ in your life? What evokes the presence of the sacred for you?

Holiness, not in the fire, wind or quake, but in the silence that comes after: It is about sweeping in when we are too comfortable and moving us out of those places we cling to when we fear the unknowns and try to avoid the pain and injustice around us.  It is about empowering us to do the things that so many others – and even sometimes our own systems – have told us we cannot do because of our gender, age, or economic situation, our education status, color of skin, or sexual orientation. It is about equipping ALL of us to be prophets by speaking truth, spreading love, and fighting for justice and equality for all of God’s children. — Nadia Bolz-Weber

Song: The Climb performed by Miley Cyrus (video link)

Zazen on Ching-t’ing Mountain
Li Po, Translated by Sam Hamill
The birds have vanished down the sky.
Now the last cloud drains away.
We sit together, the mountain and me,
until only the mountain remains.

To me a mountain is a buddha. think of the patience, hundreds of thousands of years just sittin there bein perfectly perfectly silent and like praying for all living creatures in that silence and just waitin for us to stop all our frettin and foolin. ― Jack Kerouac

No matter how sophisticated you may be, a large granite mountain cannot be denied – it speaks in silence to the very core of your being. ― Ansel Adams

So, if you cannot understand that there is something in man which responds to the challenge of this mountain and goes out to meet it, that the struggle is the struggle of life itself upward and forever upward, then you won’t see why we go. What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy. ― George Mallory

It is not the mountains that we conquer, but ourselves.— Sir Edmund Hillary

Climb the mountain not to plant your flag, but to embrace the challenge, enjoy the air and behold the view. Climb it so you can see the world, not so the world can see you.― David McCullough Jr.

Mountain, Stone (excerpt) — Lena Khalaf Tuffaha
… Do not name your children and if you must
Call them by what withstands this endless season of decay.
Name them mountains, call them stone.

On Earthquakes

It is not light that we need, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. — Frederick Douglass

There is no such thing as a life of passion any more than a continuous earthquake, or an eternal fever. — Lord Byron

God speaks to me not through the thunder and the earthquake, nor through the ocean and the stars, but through the Son of Man, and speaks in a language adapted to my imperfect sight and hearing. — William Lyon Phelps

We still carry this old caveman-imprint idea that we’re small, nature’s big, and it’s everything we can manage to hang on and survive. When big geophysical events happen – a huge earthquake, tsunami, or volcanic eruption – we’re reminded of that. — James Balog

Once you have been in an earthquake you know, even if you survive without a scratch, that like a stroke in the heart, it remains in the earth’s breast, horribly potential, always promising to return, to hit you again, with an even more devastating force. ― Salman Rushdie

On Fire

Set your life on fire. Seek those who fan your flames. ― Rumi

And she pours herself out onto all who are present: filling them, empowering them, and lighting their hearts on fire. — Nadia Bolz-Weber

In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit. — Albert Schweitzer

Doubt thou the stars are fire, Doubt that the sun doth move. Doubt truth to be a liar, But never doubt I love. — William Shakespeare

A house is not a home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as the body. — Benjamin Franklin

Time is a river which carries me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger that devours me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire that consumes me, but I am the fire. — Jorge Luis Borges

On Wind

I am a being of Heaven and Earth, of thunder and lightning, of rain and wind, of the galaxies. — Eden Ahbez

The world is always going to be dangerous, and people get badly banged up, but how can there be more meaning than helping one another stand up in a wind and stay warm? — Anne Lamott

Instead … she comes unexpectedly, loudly and boldly sweeping through the house like a sudden cold Chicago blizzard wind roaring through the tunnels between the high-rise buildings along the lake, knocking her beloved ones off their feet, and pulling them out of their comfort zones. — Nadia Bolz-Weber

On Silence

The fruit of silence is prayer.
The fruit of prayer is faith.
The fruit of faith is love.
The fruit of love is service.
The fruit of service is peace.
— St Theresa of Calcutta prayer

Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing. And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb. And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance. — Khalil Gibran

Everything that’s created comes out of silence. Your thoughts emerge from the nothingness of silence. Your words come out of this void. Your very essence emerged from emptiness. All creativity requires some stillness. — Wayne Dyer

We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls. — Mother Teresa

Silence is true wisdom’s best reply. — Euripides

Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself, and know that everything in life has purpose. There are no mistakes, no coincidences, all events are blessings given to us to learn from. — Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

I was very, very religious. And of course I wrote about it in ‘Night.’ I questioned God’s silence. So I questioned. I don’t have an answer for that. Does it mean that I stopped having faith? No. I have faith, but I question it. — Elie Wiesel
Acts of God

I find it fascinating that we call natural disasters, such as earthquakes or tsunamis, “acts of God.” … Today I would love to counteract darkness by sharing with you some acts of God: Holding my son for the very first time when he was 24 hours old … Watching my wife battle through difficult days with bold faith and determined practical love in action. Watching the courage and indomitable spirit my mom showed as a single mom raising two preschool children … — Jon Hauser

God is not in the whirlwind, not in blustering and show, Scripture teaches us. God is in the breeze, in the very atmosphere around us, in the little things that shape our lives. God is in the contradictions that assail us, in the circumstances that challenge us, in the attitudes that impel us, in the motives that drive us, in the life goals that demonstrate our real aspirations, in the burdens that wear us down, in the actions that give witness to the values in our hearts. God is in the stuff of life, not in the airy-fairy of fertile imaginations bent on the pursuit of the preternatural. God is where we are, including in the very weaknesses that vie for our souls. — Joan Chittister

In the wake of recent massive flooding … the term “acts of God” might be coming to many minds. The term is commonly used in the insurance industry and in news reports about natural disasters. It even appears in governmental policies and procedures. Anything that wreaks destruction through forces of nature, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, or floods, may be characterized as “an act of God.” Although many may accept the term as simply a convenient means of designating certain types of disasters for the purposes of insurance or legal claims, there’s little question that others see such havoc as quite literally God’s hand at work, punishing His wayward children … Many thoughtful religious people naturally rebel against the notion of such an unthinking, uncaring, merciless deity. And, in fact, they often redouble their efforts in prayer and in additional work of helping their neighbors during times of trial. Floods are often followed by many unselfish, courageous deeds. Compassion, kindness, true brotherly love, heroism, and prayer have brought hope and healing … food, and hammers and nails to raise new homes… Jesus’ ministry was marked by the healing of inveterate diseases and by saving men and women from harm … A dramatic example that defeats the supposition that destructive forces of nature are some sort of divine activity …  Because God Himself is only and all good, every manifestation of divine power can result only and always in good. God, as infinite Love and divine Spirit, is expressed in life that continuously reflects the work of Love and is entirely spiritual.— Christian Science Monitor

… “act of God” is a legal term specifically deployed to absolve human beings of any fault or indemnity. When God acts, apparently, the rest of us do not. He’s a little like the Balladeer, the Waylon Jennings voice-over, in “The Dukes of Hazzard”: the picture freezes when He weighs in. Questions of agency, divine or otherwise, dog us these early-summer days, amid a pileup of ill tidings … Who’s to blame? Who’s in charge? … A half century ago, the Oxford theologian and philosopher Austin Farrer, a friend of C.S.Lewis and J.R R.Tolkien, advanced the concept of “double agency,” … to reconcile faith and science, and divine agency and free will. In Farrer’s rendering, God creates creatures and phenomena, which, as agents themselves, then create and act freely … But what about the world’s destruction? Are we collaborating with God on that album, too? … have faith that God acts through people’s response to calamity, rather than through, say, the suffocation of a fishery and the death of a sea. — Nick Paumgarten, The New Yorker

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