She’ll be coming ’round the mountain when she comes

Life in the Postmodern Shift

January 5, 2022 | Opinion | Volume 26 Issue 1
Troy Watson | Columnist
(Photo by Lili Kovac/Unsplash)

I’ve never seen mist move in so quickly. A multitude of mysterious wisps just appeared out of nowhere, advancing swiftly across the rolling hills before me like an army of ghosts. It was stunning, haunting, beautiful.

I put my jacket and boots on, then stepped outside to wander through it, to feel it rushing by. I didn’t feel anything though. Not even a breeze. It was baffling. Where this curious army of ghosts came from, where it was going and how it was moving forward was an enigma that reminded me of the Holy Ghost.

The movement of the Holy Ghost is a mystery. I’ve had many experiences in which I’ve sensed and felt the presence of the Holy Ghost, but I’ve come to accept we can’t fully understand or predict the how, why, when or where of her movement.

Like this mist, she’ll be coming ’round the mountain when she comes.

(Note: I don’t think God has gender so I call God her, him and them. I mix it up just to remind myself I don’t know as much about God as I think I do.)

It feels strange now to call the Spirit the Holy Ghost, but that’s what we called him when I was a kid. I’m not sure why everyone started saying Holy Spirit instead of Holy Ghost. It just demonstrates how malleable, limited and transitory language is, especially when we’re talking about the Infinite, who is beyond time and space, let alone our fumbling attempts to define and describe them.

Our obsession with the right way to talk about God would be comical if it weren’t so tragic at times. What it really is, though, is idolatry. We end up worshipping the words as much as what they point us to. We mistake “the finger pointing to the moon, for the moon” as the Buddhist saying goes.

Speaking of the moon, last night I couldn’t sleep, so I went outside. It was 3 a.m. The dim lights of the distant chalets on the opposing mountainside evoked a candlelight-vigil vibe, and overhead was the most beautiful Van Gogh-esque starry night I’d ever seen. The crescent moon hanging low over the bay; the flickering reflection of light upon the water; the sky full of stars, so bright, so numerous, so vast.

It’s a shame we rarely get to see the night sky in its full glory. We rarely wander outside past midnight for starters but, even if we did, its true majesty remains veiled due to light pollution where most of us live.

It’s a curious notion that too much light can be a negative thing. I wondered if this was true spiritually as well.

Over the past few years I’ve examined my need for the bright light of God’s presence in my life. Throughout this pandemic it’s felt like God has withdrawn a bit.

This isn’t the first time I’ve experienced this, but it hasn’t shaken me as much this time around. I have more faith now, I think. I know God is here, even when God seems hidden and silent.

I no longer feel the need to try to coerce God to “show up.” I trust God will “show up” when, where and how God deems best. This has made life less stressful. Constantly seeking and striving to sense God’s presence can be exhausting.

A few days ago I prayed Psalm 23, and the words “for thou art with me” washed over me like summer rain. I know God is everywhere: in the mountains, in the city, in me. Even when I can’t sense or feel him, God is with me. Always.

It isn’t that God comes and goes, that’s just my experience, my limited perspective. Yet once in a while, it’s like God steps out of the quietness and overwhelms me with her beauty and grace.

Last night it was like God herself was shining down upon me under that radiant night sky and filling me up.

It reminded me: God likes to surprise us. It reminded me that it requires the darkness of night to experience the more subtle nature of God’s beauty and grace. The moon and stars are God’s light too, but you can’t see them in the bright light of the sun. It reminded me to chill out and wait patiently for the Most High. For she’ll be coming ’round the mountain when she comes.

Troy Watson is slowly learning to chill out and wait patiently.

Read more Life in the Postmodern Shift columns:
What do I miss about church?
Into the woods
The misplaced pursuit of authenticity
It's about to get weird
Being, doing and becoming

(Photo by Lili Kovac/Unsplash)

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