This Issue

Spring 2009

Life was different back then. George Ariyoshi presided as Governor. Kalapana recently released Many Classic Moments. Bobby McGee’s was Waikiki’s hot spot. And ‘Iolani was a school for boys.
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Spring 2009 - Department | St. Alban’s Minute

St. Alban’s Minute With The Rev. Daniel L. Leatherman

On the mountain or in the valley, God is there.

Before the wild fires in Santa Barbara in 2008 destroyed it, the Mount Calvary Monastery was perched high on a hill overlooking the Pacific and was a place of spiritual depth and renewal.  I always felt at home there and welcomed by the Benedictine brothers of the Order of the Holy Cross. I could sit for hours looking out at the world from this mountain top retreat.  It was a true “mountain top” experience of being with God.
The Transfiguration of Jesus (Mk 9:2-11) takes place on a high mountain. While there, something amazing happens. Jesus is seen in blazing white and in the company of Moses and Elijah. It is a moment so incredible and transformative for the disciples with him.  Perhaps this is where the phrase a “mountain top” experience comes from, when one has experienced something wonderful and life changing.  But here is the thing. In the end, Jesus and the disciples come down off the mountain.  The mountain top experience does not last forever. There are other challenges to face, other things to do.  It’s not that such experiences don’t change us. Indeed we are transformed.  But we cannot stay on top of the mountain forever.  For Jesus, that would not be his destiny, nor would it be for the disciples as well. 
At the time of this writing, we are preparing for Ash Wednesday and the holy season of Lent.  Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, a time historically when the Church called upon all of its members to set aside time for fasting, prayer, sacrifice, and repentance. 

 After the fires of Santa Barbara, all that was left of the beloved monastery was the chapel bell, the iron garden cross, and the charred remains of the entrance.  The rest were ashes. Thankfully, all the brothers made it out safely with only enough time to grab a few precious possessions. 
In all of our lives, there are mountains and valleys, highs and lows. Grades go up and they go down, we have good days and bad days.  Faith is no different.  As much as we would love to stay on top of the mountain, we know that eventually we must come down.  My Benedictine brothers know that all too well- they too must descend to the valley below.  For God calls them there too - to live and work, as Jesus did. God is not only a God of the mountain top, but also a God of the valleys.

And if you think about it, with a few exceptions here and there, most of us don’t live on mountains at all, figuratively or literally We are Valley people, rooted to lands at the base of the peaks.  This is a fundamental message as we move forward towards Lent. In the Ash Wednesday service we are reminded with the words  “remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return”  that we are mortal and will all die someday.  But in that mortality, we are not alone.

I believe that God is not far or distant, but ever present with us both on the mountain and in the valley: in moments of the silly pettiness of our wants, in fire and flood, or the mountain highs, or the valley lows of sadness.  In them all, God is there.