[15] Comfort in solitude: uplift

Comfort in solitude: Uplifting or uplift…

Snow covered mountain in the Austrian Tyrol near Innsbruck.
Comfort in solitude: Snow covered mountain in the Austrian Tyrol near Innsbruck. By Peter Reason licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

I will lift up mine eyes to the hills”

Psalm 121:1

So begins the Psalm often recited in my schooldays.
We all feel a sense of well-being ‘going up’ in a lift, big wheel, hill walking or even mountaineering.

My favourite evening stroll ends at our local ‘viewpoint’ – every bit of forty feet above sea level!
Ten miles over the hills of Exmoor, Snowdonia or Cumbria seemed easier than two miles of plodding over flat fenland here!

A memorable climb was the 19000 foot grind to ‘The Snows of Kilimanjaro’ (Mountain of God) with a breathtaking sunrise through the clouds from below.

Pencil drawing of a glider above the clouds. Comfort in solitude.
Pencil drawing by Cecily Marshall of a glider.

But the ultimate experience was a first ever encounter with a powerful thermal of rising air, flying a glider.
Throw her over into a steep turn, concentrate on ‘look-out’, scan the instruments and see the ground sinking away below.
This sensation was dramatised in the beautiful sonnet ‘High Flight’ by Pilot Officer Magee, shortly before his death. Quoting some lines:

Sunward I′ve climbed and joined the tumbling mirth of sun-split clouds
Up-up the long delirious burning blue.
And while with silent lifting mind, I′ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space.
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.”

‘High Flight’ by Pilot Officer Magee.

Powerful stuff, but when you straighten up to level flight, then comes the Mariner′s prayer;

O Lord, the sea (sky) is so big and my ship (glider) is so small.”

From the Mariner′s prayer.

An elevated viewpoint serves to remind us just how big is the world and how small are we.
We can, like Jesus, return to the mountains, alone:

Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives”

Luke 21:37

Or in company as with the Sermon on the Mount:

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down.
His disciples came to him and he began to teach them.”

Matthew 5:1

Likewise we can ‘go to the hills’ as from the Sound of Music, get away from the rat-race or a bad day at the office, and find the peace of God:

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:7

In fact, He is everywhere and knows us wherever we are.

My diaries list a life of adventure with enough narrow escapes to tally at least ‘seven’ on the cat scale of longevity.
I credit my survival not to ability, skill or good luck, but to a benevolent Power beyond this world.

From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind;
from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth”

Psalm 33:13-14

For I am convinced that neither death nor life,
neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future,
nor any powers, neither height nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 8:38-39

These verses confirm our relationship with Him wherever and whatever.
Psalm 121 continues:

..where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

Psalm 121:2

Joe Lucas July 2005

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