A Mountain To Ride

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Thoreau said that he kept a mountain to ride instead of a horse. It did not take long to get over the mountain but when you got over it, had you got over it? I think not. Some have; some haven’t. I belong to the group that hasn’t. When I go walking over creation, I have walked the ground to my destination, but I am not over Creation. Creation is like the mountain, which is part of Creation, transcendence can be felt rising from it. It confirms our spiritual dimensions.

A sense of Creation always stays with me. I have transcendent moments in which I realize the quantifiable is but an allusion, a hint of the spiritual dimension that infinitely exists. We are but transients passing through this Creation, and if all we do is cover the ground, we have learned some facts about it but we have missed the truths it has to say, missed the profound it has to confirm. What we have around us are minor truths applicable in some perhaps scientific way, but we have missed the applicable greater truths that while not measured, do whisper, speak, shout, and point to higher truths not set down yet and still beyond our grasp. One of these truths is God.

It surprises me how some people want to say what is true is only what is presently quantifiable. My truths are not necessarily quantifiable, but they are nonetheless real. Man has become book bound in his ability to define or recognize truth. I define truths as not only from libraries which stifle me but from living life. My truths come out of applied living in Creation and with others. A sense of God rises like fog from living, well done. The awareness is transcendent and spiritual.

You see I could get all the facts about a mountain from a geography book, but would I know the truth of the mountain? Certainly not. I would be a book bound fool just as so many of the pseudo-intellectuals of today are about life. It is only when I climb the mountain, apply myself against the mountain, see the mountain from a distance, that I glean the greater meanings of the mountain. The mountain has great  transcendental truth to share.

Now if you had the facts on your spouse from a book, could you decide on him or her from that?. No, there are some truths which arrive in living and arise from living. Love would be one of these. Compatibility or “fit” would be another. You know only from living if you “fit” another person.

You will never know truth by picking facts out of books or deciding what is right from a series of facts which are real but are on too one dimensional a level. Quantifiable facts help us to have a theory. Theories are generally easily come by and soon gone, lost or rearranged in other theories. The world of facts is kaleidoscopic. Out of their changes emerge the passing new theories and fashionable readjustments.

But don't confuse facts with truths at the higher levels. Facts work out when truths are still beyond us. There are facts and there are truths. The two may not be in touch with each other at the time, but so what?  Neither is invalidated by separation. They can wait until we can see at some future time, perhaps, how and where they merge together.

Why some people say only quantifiable truths about the mountains are real, I shall never know. Some folk are simply” literal” I think. They have few higher feelings, insights or high awareness. They are one dimensional as people. They are not ELECTED TO LIFE, called to an enjoyment of life and a vibrant sense of it.

As I walk in creation, God always stays with me. Creation and mankind imply to me a religious truth, an  awareness, that regardless of the mere facts, which I in no way argue with, rises out of me spontaneously.  As I say, the scientists may have the facts, but what of them? I want to deal with the transcendental truths I feel in me sweetly rising out of what are called facts. As Thoreau explained, “instead of a horse to ride, I  have a mountain.” He could be rejuvenated by a look that was transcendent.

What Creation sends me in transcendental awareness is more of a truth than any mere factual data collected about a place. It is the same as Thoreau’s mountain. The mountain sent Thoreau an awareness of  transcendence he could trust. He did not deny facts about the mountain, but he would have said the facts were not the total truth or the whole vision. He received transcendent inspiration from it.

My grandmother had a cousin, a college president, who would come to visit her every summer. Her two story house looked out over the hills. The visiting cousin asked my grandmother for a bedroom where he could see the mountains. One of my uncles who was obtuse to the Nth degree and enjoyed a remarkable lack of sensitivity enjoyed this question immensely. He asked my mother why the old man wanted to see the mountains. He thought it enormously funny and went around repeating,  “I want to see the mountains,” and after each time he laughed until it seemed his sides would split. My mother was embarrassed by how insensitive he was. She wanted to change him.

My wise old grandmother commented about the insensitivity of my uncle to my mother. “Don’t worry, honey, what nature has left out, you can’t put in, What can’t be cured must be endured. You just have to live with him. But be careful and don’t marry a man like that. Marry a man who can get feelings from the mountains as you can. Otherwise you can be miserable.” My mother replied, “Yes,  I will marry a man who can feel the mountains.”

Later on she married a preacher. She told her mother about her husband, “Yes, he does not just see the  mountains as a fact, he feels them as a truth. We will be happy.” They were, and they were married fifty years. He died right after their “Golden Anniversary”. He had cancer. They had two sons they were very proud of. The sons carried their parents’ ideals as a flag before them. As a couple, they had a good life, many happy times, and were good people full of grace.

There are large numbers of people who as scientists or businessmen see buying and selling only, seeing just facts, and can’t see how anyone might would want to see the mountains or could “feel them.” These are people similar to the color blind, the tone deaf, or in a theological term, “lacking grace.” They’re like the ones who don’t have a sense of humor and can’t see a joke.

In this category of the ones who can’t feel the mountains as a truth, only see them as a fact, are those who do not have any sense of the grace of God. They can live years on earth without any feeling of gratitude for  life’s beauty, the thrill of living, or the quiet joy of living. (For Heaven’s sake, don’t marry one. I warn you as my grandmother warned my mother. I give you this time honored wisdom to be applied to either spouse.)

Such obtusely vacant people are not ours to worry about. They are more to be pitied than censored. Jesus advised those who had eyes to see or ears to hear to hear and see. He referred to those who could see or hear or were capable of doing so. They were emotionally ready for truths in life. Not all the world is. Not all the people in the world are ready to see or hear, whatever the reason. They’re out there and they are in the way, like an army of the undead who are not dead but can’t feel. They are numb to life. That’s just the way it is. Look around you. Leave them to Heaven.

Don’t go around screaming hysterically these are going to hell. This is a question best left up to God whether a blind man will go to hell for not seeing or a deaf man go to hell for not hearing. No one has appointed you to the jury. In other words: Don’t damn the defective! Most people are not intentionally evil. They just aren’t ready to see, hear or understand. Your job is to leave them to Heaven but help where you may. The cruel fact is there’s just not too much you can do. So it is with many non-believers. They are incapable of hearing what you say. If they hear, they don’t understand what you mean. lt is like beating your head against a wall. Believe me, I know.

Many people can understand only how a mountain is a thing to be bought and sold. They are quite capable of blowing up a mountain to get the coal, leaving a ravaged scar on the earth. The only thing they saw in in the mountain was money. They will never in a million years understand Thoreau’s statement how he kept a mountain to ride instead of a horse. Nor are they probably going to have divine feelings,  transcendent feelings, or see or understand anything about God. They are not among any elected to any cause, any God, or any idea, but among the defective who will never understand.

Such defective, unaware and blind people can be most irritating to have around. They are also dangerous and do blind things. Have you not seen the polluted ravage of the seas done for profit?  It is unfortunate the damage those defective in feeling as well as thinking do. But if you lose all patience and stoop to hating them, you will end up being as spiritually obtuse and tone deaf as they are. Remember it is the methods you take that make you what you are. Jesus said of like  minded and situated blind folk, “Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” (Matthew 15:14)

Our society and indeed the world today is in that ditch. Some years ago the country went off the road. I suggest that part of it comes from their being led by the insensate. They believed, drawing up new and bad  maps. They trusted the ones who could not go beyond one sided fact assessments to appreciate the spiritual truths that crown the facts. Those with half sight evaluations are destined to live half lives. They will also be a curse to humanity through the impact of their lives lacking a full vision.

You have to have a full view of life. You have to see the mountains as facts to be dealt with, but you also have to see the transcendent and spiritual implications of your facts. You have to see the  mountain and feel what the mountain has to say.

If you see humans used only as facts to be dealt with in a scientific manner, it is not enough. You must also see them as spiritual and transcendental beings. Otherwise you will be a cold and scientific modern monster monster such as we have witnessed producing modern technology that works on killing instruments from nine o’clock to five o’clock and are very happy to be paid in a laboratory for doing it. Are you willing to be paid by a laboratory to come up with new and better ways to kill people when you have no idea who will be using them and for what reasons? lf so, l advise you to repent.

Religion without science can get along. But science without religion as well as spiritual values without religiously generated compassion to moderate will not do.That is a sad cake to present the world.

The literal half life vision the world now has is not enough. Quantifiable facts are not enough. The earth needs to be viewed spiritually as well as transcendentally. We are not doing that in the world today.  Therefore we must pay the price of our one sided and incomplete factually fragmented literal vision of life, that lacks the spiritual and the transcendent concerns that make life symmetrical and complete. Humanity needs the activity of the spiritual life as well as transcendent moments to be happy, healthy, rounded and complete.

“Come near, ye nations, to hear; hearken, ye people: let the earth hear, and all that is therein; the world, and all things that come forth of it.” (Isaiah 34:1) And we must pray not only that the world harkens, but “the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf be unstopped.” (Isaiah 35: 5)

Pray that eyes be opened and ears become unstopped. This cannot be done by us. However, we may pray for the grace from God that it be done and it will be done. We need to pray for revival in the world. We need to pray for the conversion of many hearts in our country, in the world and in our churches.

I am of the persuasion that good deeds and kind actions prime the pump of God’s grace, that it comes flowing down. If we are to ask God for grace to change people, we must first demonstrate to Him that we are serious by our actions and our prayers. Promise to God that as others try to change, you will try to be supportive of them. Do not ask God to listen to your entreaties if they are insincere or you are not going to be supportive of those causes, ideals and people you pray for. God is not mocked. As you pray, so shall you garner. What you send around will come back to you.

Let us stand in dignity before God as we ask of God what is not beneath His dignity to give or will not detract from our dignity as His people to receive.

May your blessings come in your size. May God have your fit. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.   

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Dr. James MacLeod may be contacted through the Neill Macaulay Foundation.