Into the Cloud
The glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; on the seventh day God called to Moses out of the cloud. – Exodus 24:16 (NRSV)
People have been making pilgrimages to the summit of Ireland’s Croagh Patrick for 5,000 years, since pagans first gathered there to celebrate the harvest. According to tradition, Saint Patrick prayed and fasted there for 40 days in the year 441.
Now more than a million people each year make the climb – for the adventure or as a form of penance. Some walk the rocky path barefoot or crawl over the sharp stones on their knees.
My friend and I wanted a mystical mountaintop experience. Besides that, the guidebooks promised magnificent views of Clew Bay. And so we began the steep ascent.
By the time we reached the top, my shirt was soaked with perspiration … and the sparkling blue waters of the bay were nowhere to be seen. The summit was socked in by fog so completely enveloped that it felt like we were in a cloud. What a disappointment!
We are, many of us, goal-setting people. We set our sights on what we hope to achieve. When difficulties arise or obstacles appear, we think all is lost.
But experience tells us that transformation happens in the obstacles and how we handle them. Tradition tells us that God is in the cloud itself.
As my friend and I stared into the thick gray cloud at the summit of Croagh Patrick, an opening appeared. Through the veiled window we could see the brightness cast by the sun and captured by the cloud. The glory of God was all around us.
When I think I’ve hit a dead end, remind me that is where you do your best work.
Vicki Kemper is the Pastor of First Congregational, UCC, of Amherst, Massachusetts.