Encounter, not meeting, changes us, and we are left different. Something touches our inner being, and we begin to flower. Or wither. Encounter has the power of life or death.
Mountains are metaphors of encounter with God – “who will ascend the mountain of the Lord?” asks the psalmist. The Ark on Mt Ararat. Moses on Mt Sinai. Elijah on Mt Carmel. Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. The Sermon on the Mount.
These encounters of creature with Creator burn through us, transforming us into our true selves, revealing our true natures, and liberating us from the terrifying guilt most of us know we are too frightened to face. And so begins our journey from self-centredness to love, from isolated individual to catholic priesthood, from mere resemblance to true personification, from fallen image to risen likeness.
But encounters are transient, momentary. In a blink they are gone. Did it really happen? All that is left is an indelible mark on our soul, and a piton driven into our memory. But that piton acts as a life-saving anchor. When we slip, lose our grip and fall, they hold us fast. They are God’s timeless presence with us. Always.
The Bewcastle Benefice sermon for the Sunday before Lent (Year A) can be found here.