He knew the mountain by familiar love and feel, like a face. – Annie Dillard

Mountains make me ache. The foggy shadow of the Blue Ridge across the fields. The Smokies dressed in streams of water and mist. Pinnacles and bare, jagged stones adorning the Rockies. The stunted strength of the Scottish Highlands.

When I dream of places to stay, to settle, I picture a vale sheltered by peaks, my space vast because it is enclosed – like the vault of a cathedral or the arch of a perfect timber frame.

I spent years I don’t remember in Bozeman, Montana – a just walking infant – and yet, that town has shaped my expectation for place. Wide skies, spiky peaks. Freedom within the shelter of massive stone. Going to the Sun U-Valleyphoto © 2005 Ken Lund | more info (via: Wylio)

The Isrealites camped under mountain after mountain. They sheltered in the shadows of these blessed, sacred places, and still, like me, they feared they would not have enough – food, water, land, love. They cried out; let’s be honest – they whined. God answered with manna and stones pouring forth water. They had pillars of cloud and fire to steer them. Still, each time life became frightening, they cried out. Every time, every single time God answered. I imagine God glad to give but broken because it would now take them 40 years to reach God’s promise. They needed that much time to learn. So God took them all along mountains, constant, physical reminders of God’s shelter.

Maybe this is why mountains make me ache. I’m crying out, and God is reminding me with each towering, aged hill – I am here. You are safe.

Oh to learn God’s face by love and feel, like a mountain.