When I reached Psalm 121 this week, it was clear what this Monday morning's meditation would be about for I had just come across one of my two favorite psalms (the other being Psalm 23, which I think is a favorite for many people). Raised in the foothills of the White Mountains in Maine and New Hampshire, spending the first years of married life in the Bitteroot Mountains of Montana, working recently for two blessed years in the holy hills of Jordan (in the shadow of Mount Nebo), and now sheltered in my current residence by the California coastal mountains, I find hills of any sort to be as essential to my being as the Swiss Alps were to Heidi's of literary fame. The psalm evokes the sense of security, safety, and peace that I feel in the mountains.
Reading: Psalm 121
Meditation: San Ignatio is surrounded by hills, gentle slopes that rise enough into the sky to be considered small mountains but not great summits. As such, they exude an atmosphere of friendliness, like the hand of God reaching out to say, "Here I am; come nearer." I see these hills every day. In the winter and spring, when they are sprinkled with raindrops, they are great folds of green carpets rising toward the sun. When the rain has sunk below the roots of the grass, they become the golden hills of our summer and fall. Whether they are green or gold, I can look upon them and know that my help comes from just beyond them, from God, who pours out love with the sunshine and with the rain. When I take my constitution, lately less daily than it should be, I often find myself reciting Psalm 121, as I look upon the hills.
Here, indeed, I find my help. Here, too, I find that God never sleeps. The sun by day and the moon by night in our clear sky remind me of God's presence, love, and kindness. Here I feel secure.
A few years ago, when I was leaving RCIA, Fr. Greg stood at the door as I was leaving, as if waiting. When I asked what he was waiting for, he said he was watching me go to me car. "Well," I told him, "I hope you have extraordinary distance vision because I walked."
"In that case," he responded, "be careful that you are not attacked on your way back."
Now why he would ever think that anything like that would happen in San Ignatio, I don't know, but then he was in interim priest and did not live here. "I'm not worried," I explained to him. "I feel protected."
In an oddly quiet voice that seemed to come from a sudden understanding, he nearly whispered, "I believe you are." I believe I am, too. Were I to have had any thoughts to the contrary, the day that Lizzie and I escaped from being stalked by three stone 20-somethings would have put those thoughts to rest.
Contemplation: That is far as I can go with you this Monday morning. I now retire to private prayer, repenting for the to many times recently that I have skipped my daily walk because I was too busy, to thank God for always being with me even when I am not with Him and for protecting from all that would harm me, to praise God for His faithfulness as do so many of the psalms leading up to Psalm 121, and to ask Him to protect all my friends and acquaintances and those of His children whom I do not know in the same wonderful way He has protected me. Then I will move on to contemplation, my favorite part of the day, letting God take over the direction in which my relationship with Him moves.
I will leave you now to your prayer and contemplation. First, though, I would like to bring to your attention a Monday morning prayer post that you might enjoy:
Fr. Austin Fleming, priest of the Archdiocese of Boston and pastor in Concord, Massachusetts, posts a prayer each Monday morning that he calls "Monday Morning Offering." I enjoy his prayers very much. I hope you also will find them inspirational. He has graciously given me permission to include a link to his blog on my Monday Morning Meditation posts. (During the week, he also posts great homilies and other thoughtful discussions. I enjoy reading those, too.)
For additional inspiration throughout the week, I would point out two sets of blogs: (1) the list of devotional blogs on my sidebar and (2) my blogroll, where I am following a number of inspirational priests and writers about spiritual matters. I learn so very much from all these people. I highly recommend them to you.