As a teenager, I first began skiing in the North Shore Mountains. Mountaintop views from Seymour, Grouse, and Cypress are often stunning. Mountains cause us to realize that the world is so much bigger than our compartmentalized life. They are a way to get away, to recover perspective, to remember who we are in the frantic busyness of North Shore life.
While I loved skiing the North Shore Mountains as a teenager, I still felt an inner emptiness. Something was missing that I could not put a finger on. I had no idea that I was on a spiritual journey. At age 17, in the final months of Grade 12, I had a mountaintop spiritual experience where I met God and within a week felt called to ordained ministry. My maternal grandmother and mother, who were more discerning than me, both knew already that I would end up as an Anglican priest. My plan had been to be an electrical engineer like my father. Instead I became a social worker before becoming a priest. As of this May, I will have been ordained now for thirty-two years.
I love the Anglican way, even with its challenges. I also deeply love the wider Church, with its rich interdenominational flavours. It is good to appreciate the strengths of one denomination, without being narrow or rigid about it. Anglicans do not have the corner on biblical truth, but we do have a contribution to make in the wider picture.
In January this year, I had the privilege of having a one-month mountaintop sabbatical. As I had done eight years ago, I went to a small cabin on top of Mount Sumas where I had the opportunity to spend time in solitude with God. Many people in the bible went to mountains when they wanted to deepen their walk with the Lord. Moses is one of the most famous examples. The Good Book tells us in Exodus 19:20 that “the LORD descended to the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. So Moses went up.” Moses spent forty days and nights with God face to face, coming down with the Ten Commandments. Mountaintops were also one of Jesus’ favorite places to pray (Mark 6:46)
While on Mount Sumas, I journaled on my IPhone what I was hearing from the Lord. While none of these impressions were ‘written in stone’, I sensed God speaking to me many times during that month. God reminded me many times that I am his adopted son, that I am loved and accepted. A prayer sabbatical is a wonderful way to slow down and just listen to the still small voice. God showed me that I don’t need to rush ahead of him, that he is in charge, and I need to surrender afresh to his will and purposes. While on Mount Sumas, God was renewing and refreshing my heart. Many times he reminded me of that original mountain top experience that I had with him in Grade 12.
My prayer for those reading this article is that we may be reminded that he is humble and gentle in heart, and that he loves to give rest to our souls when they are weary and burdened (Matthew 11:28-30).
The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin
-an article previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News
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