Listen to the Mountains ...


Painting - "View from Clingmans Dome" - Terri Waters

     As the story goes, a certain man once stretched wires tautly between two trees, hoping to hear harp-like music when the wind blew. But he was disappointed. The timbre of the sound was less than beautiful as the gentle breezes caused the strands to vibrate. One day, however, a gigantic storm came raging in and the tumultuous wind whipped the wires furiously. Suddenly, a magnificent melody sprang from the dancing wires.

     We are like those wires. Without the storms of life - the trials, the obstacles - we usually produce unimpressive sounds. When storms rage, however, and difficult winds attack us and test our endurance and challenge us, almost to the breaking point, heroic melodies can be released. It is from the depths of our souls during trying times that notes of character and courage can be forged. That is why we would be wise to listen to the mountains, nature's wonders that have weathered the storms of time and have increased in strength and beauty. 

     Surrounded by the Great Smokies, we who most frequently see these mountains can become deaf to their music. Accustomed to their beauty, we may cease to be awed by their majesty. We may no longer recognize their splendor nor hear them as they echo:

          The mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing ...                (Isaiah 55:12)

     Ture beauty is within view. Ecstasy is within range. If only we would listen. Listening, we grow aware of a mystical, religious melody, because God is ever-present in the nature He created. Too many of us, however, have lost this awareness. We have become too busy, not taking time to pause, to be quiet, to turn an ear toward His sounds. As a result, we often fail to decipher the melodic strains:

          I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.                      (Psalms 121:1)

     In this contemporary age, far removed from the mountains' childhood years, sought-after affluence sometimes bombards our ears with unbearable decibels. Over-emphasis on intellectual sophistication sometimes deadens the tones. Often, a striving toward superficial success destroys our hearing completely. More frequently than not, however, it is indifference that suffocates the orchestral beauty that could be ours. Being apathetic, we say, "God, I don't care. I don't need Your mountains. I don't appreciate them nor what they represent and I'm not grateful to You for creating them."

     Communication is lost when we do not listen. In the midst of our struggles, we need to communicate. Whenever we are feeling depressed, unhappy, alone, we can get a new outlook on things if we would only listen to the mountains which have defeated much greater odds. Like them, through crises we can grow stronger rather than weaker, harmonious rather than discordant.

     A small boy and his grandfather sat fishing on the bank of a mountain stream. Their conversation was varied, covering such topics as "How can fish hold their breath so long under water?" and "Where does the sun go when it goes down?" and "What makes the flowers different colors?" Then, the conversation ceased as the little boy gazed down at the water, took a long, lingering look at the surrounding mountain side, and seemed to be in deep thought. Finally, in the stillness of the moment, the boy turned toward his grandfather and asked, "Can anyone see God?" the elderly man who was born and reared in the mountains looked down into the searching eyes of his grandson. A smile caressed his wrinkled skin as he replied, "Son, it's getting so I can't see anything but God." The old man had been listening to the mountains.

~ Copyright 1978 by Carl Mays