The words of the psalm played in my mind as I made my way up the highest mountain on Iona, a small island off the west coast of Scotland famed as a center of Celtic spirituality. I paused and watched the sheep below before attempting the steepest section.
Soon I’d reached the summit: I could see forever, an unspeakably awesome experience. I sensed being an incredibly insignificant part of a tremendous world—driven home with a sharp, strong gust of wind that nearly blew me off my perch and back down the mountain.
I squatted down and leaned back against the rock to shield myself from the wind and soaked in the view. I lost, for a few moments, any sense of time or space or even of self. Suddenly an urgent need to know God’s abiding presence and steadfast love came over me.
I felt a desperate loneliness—a fear that I was unknown and insignificant, that I was not loved. The emotion struck with a force that was nearly physical and that brought streams of quiet tears.
And then something happened. It was like hearing a voice, only I didn’t. Or feeling an arm around me, only there wasn’t.
But I knew, I knew that it was all true—everything I’ve read and heard and seen about God’s love. It is alive and strong, active and present. And my tears turned to joy.
“Be still and know that I am God.”
Alone at the top of a mountain, on an isolated island, I was not beyond the reach of God. Perhaps this also means that even when I am alone in the midst of my sometimes messy life I still am not beyond the reach and, therefore, love of God. Perhaps there always will be moments, beyond my control, when God is real and present.
I had traveled by plane, coach, boat and foot for more than 30 hours to reach this holy place on the other side of the world, searching for God—only to find that God had been with me all the while.
That is grace sufficient for this day.
© 2014 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers