The Sandia Mountains at the eastern edge of Albuquerque, New Mexico
by Susan Parlato Revels
My first visit "out west" was in the early spring of 1988 on a trip to Las Vegas, Nevada for a conference. I couldn't have cared less for the casinos. Instead, with friends, we rented a car on our downtime and explored the desert. The air was arid and crisp. It was March, before the onset of any significant heat. We rode horses and climbed rocks and walked what seemed a moonscape to my unseasoned eye. Not the wall of trees like my eastern life, where you could not see where the sky met the earth. But instead, endless miles of horizon, rock wilderness and red earth. I understood then why holy men went to the desert to “hear God”. I gathered some of that red dirt to take back to NYC with me, so I could remember this pristine, cleansing expanse. And I prayed, "Lord, bring me to a desert place."
I meant, bring me to such a place in my heart, enveloped in silence where my mind could be still. But God brought me to that place in reality, with an added bonus: mountains. Mountains that I live in, for my city is a mile high. Mountains that stand sentinel just to the east of home. Mountains that I can see every day, from anywhere I travel in town. Mountains that are a guidepost at any given moment and give me my bearings, for if I am ever lost, I just need to look up to see where they stand, and I know in which direction I am traveling, and how to get home.
When life has threatened to overwhelm, those mountains have been a bolster to my spirit, because just looking at them requires me to “look up”….and then I recall that God is the lifter of my head. They remind me that God is the rock on which I need to lean because he is ever-present, solid and enduring. They remind me that though my problems seem insurmountable to me, God is bigger. And He, will not be moved.
Today, the first morning of 2021, I am thankful for the sunrise on these mountains. It brings to mind the God of my past and the roads I traveled to arrive at this place today, led by His secure hand. It reassures me that going forward, God knows the road. As I gladly bid good-bye to 2020, and look ahead to the uncertain future of 2021, the mountains remind me that God is El Roi – The God Who Sees. No matter what struggles I will encounter, as God was in the past, He is already there in my future, waiting for me, and I can move forward, in peace.
I will lift up my eyes to the mountains--From whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep. ....... The LORD shall preserve you from all evil;
He shall preserve your soul. The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore.
Susan Parlato Revels
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