Day 1 - Up on the mountain

Day 1 - Up on the mountain

August 1!  Although August technically is still summer here in Minnesota, I love knowing we are closer to fall.  

I began this blog and website to focus on the three keys of Embracing Your Bliss: Awaken to the Spirit, Bring Joy to Others and Create from the Heart but the creating from my heart has been on the back burner lately.  So, this will be my intentional focus for the month of August.  As I listened for inspiration on how to embrace this "creating from the heart", my daughter Kenna suggested I use the daily readings of the liturgical calendar and my own prayer time as a source of creativity!  I like this idea and so today I begin.

The gospel today is from Matthew 14:22-36.  (If I was more savvy at blogging, I would put in a scripture link but I don't know how!) As I reflect on the reading, a couple of verses really strike me.  Initially, I focused on Jesus's statement to the disciples in the boat, "Take courage, it is I; do not  be afraid."  But as I reflected a bit more and reread the gospel, I keep returning to the verse, "he went up to the mountain by himself to pray."  This verse makes me think of my day in Subiaco, Italy.

When I completed my Masters of Divinity in May of 2009, I celebrated with almost a month in Italy by myself on a bit of a pilgrimage.  I began in Rome, went on to Assisi, Sienna, Florence, Venice and back to Rome but my favorite one day adventure was my day trip to Subiaco. 

I was advised not to travel alone to Subiaco because of my limited Italian, but I felt my heart tugging me to go to the place where St Benedict spent his years in the caves of the mountain praying.  I could not get it out of my heart and decided to trust that it was the Spirit leading me.  The day before I was to return home, I went to the bus station and waited and in walked three nuns who sat near me.  I fondly refer to them now as my "three angels" because we spent the day together!  Their limited English (Polish sisters)  and my mixing of French and Spanish allowed us to communicate but what we shared did not need words.  We had a marvelous day of adventures, laughing, prayer, sharing food (they had an endless supply in their backpacks!) and climbing the mountains toward St Benedict's home in the caves of Subiaco.  It was a day I will always cherish.

This entry would go on forever if I tried to capture the day but what reminds me of this verse is what I want to share.  As St Benedict's monastery (Subiaco) prepared to close for a couple hours mid-day, the sisters said they were going to climb FURTHER up the mountain to another monastery, a Salesian place, because they wanted to pray and they invited me with them.  We began the climb in the 100 degree Italian summer heat.  

A beautiful small Visitation (Salesian) monastery is hidden in the mountain! We were graciously welcomed by a Visitation sister from New York City.  We spent a couple hours alone in prayer and reflection on the grounds of this monastery and ended our time with a tour of their "icon training house".  It was amazing: the surroundings, the company and the silence.  God was everywhere I turned and I was overwhelmed with the pure joy I felt in this space.  It was truly a divine day.

I find it so much easier to spend time in prayer when I am alone and "up on the mountain".  I am not referring to "mountain top experiences" but rather places of solitude and silence.  I often go to St John's Abbey when I need to spend time alone.  It is this solitude and silence which brings me closest to God,  warms the depth of my being and allows me to listen with the ear of my heart. 

God is everywhere and time "on the mountain" by myself to pray is not always an option but it is life giving for me.  I can spend hours and hours in silence and prayer, surrounded by my books and simply listening to where the Spirit is leading: Awakening to the Spirit!

The three Polish nuns helped guide me that day in Subiaco and were my companions up and on the mountain, and it was the courage to listen to the urging of the Spirit that nudged me to follow my heart that day.  I believe I am better able to listen to the Spirit when I am able to spend time alone "on the mountain."  I guess the other verse, "Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid" also applies to this story.

My prayer is that we will all create time in our busy lives to go alone to our own mountain place and be with our God and find the courage the listen and as St Benedict tells us, "To listen with the ear of our heart."


This is the path leading up the mountain at the Salesian Monastery

Cross on the Mountain across from Subiaco St Benedict's Monastery

3 comments (Add your own)

1. Renee wrote:
Susan, you wrote: My prayer is that we will all create time in our busy lives to go alone to our own mountain place and be with our God and find the courage the listen and as St Benedict tells us, "To listen with the ear of our heart."

That is a beautiful prayer - and one that we need! I find it hard to create that time, but am so blessed by it when I do.

Thank you for such a wonderful blog!

Mon, August 1, 2011 @ 11:45

2. Hilda wrote:
Dear Susan,

It seemed to me I was up there, feeling the Lord´s presence in that mountain.



Thu, August 4, 2011 @ 11:45

3. Ajayi wrote:
What an awesome way to explain this-now I know evrnhtyieg!

Fri, October 18, 2013 @ 11:45

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def. Bliss: -noun Supreme Happiness, Utter Joy/Contentment; the Joy of Paradise!