The Most-Sacred Mountain

Mt Cook, New Zealand, Elly Clifton 2007

I came across the following poem in my reading. Well worth a slow meditation (pay special attention to the final stanza) and the question, Have I known such transcendence, or can I know it? Indeed, the mountain is a symbol of transcendence in many faith traditions, and like all good symbols it is best not read literally (the ocean has been my “mountain”), although there is something deeply spiritual about the effort of a hard climb and the revelation of God in nature.

The Most-Sacred Mountain

Eunice Tietjens

SPACE, and the twelve clean winds of heaven,
And this sharp exultation, like a cry, after the slow six thousand steps of climbing!
This is Tai Shan, the beautiful, the most holy.

Below my feet the foot-hills nestle, brown with flecks of green; and lower down the flat brown plain, the floor of earth, stretches away to blue infinity.
Beside me in this airy space the temple roofs cut their slow curves against the sky,
And one black bird circles above the void.

Space, and the twelve clean winds are here;
And with them broods eternity—a swift, white peace, a presence manifest.
The rhythm ceases here. Time has no place. This is the end that has no end.

Here, when Confucius came, a half a thousand years before the Nazarene, he stepped, with me, thus into timelessness.            10
The stone beside us waxes old, the carven stone that says: “On this spot once Confucius stood and felt the smallness of the world below.”
The stone grows old:
Eternity is not for stones.
But I shall go down from this airy place, this swift white peace, this stinging exultation.

And time will close about me, and my soul stir to the rhythm of the daily round.
Yet, having known, life will not press so close, and always I shall feel time ravel thin about me;
For once I stood
In the white windy presence of eternity.

source: Jessie B. Rittenhouse, ed. (1869–1948).  The Second Book of Modern Verse.  1922. http://www.bartleby.com/271/83.html

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