As the car kept winding up, up, up, I couldn’t help but wonder if our friend’s house had been built on the very top of the mountain. Darkness had fallen by the time my sister, two friends, and I got to our destination, but even at night the mountains seemed alive.
Our friend led us up a flight of dark and wobbly steps to the balcony, where we gasped at the panorama. Before us was the most beautiful view of the city of Iskenderun, Turkey far below. Twinkling lights of all colors lined the Mediterranean, as though an angel had scooped up a ladle of stars and flung them across the darkness.
Even better—the silence.
The next morning, I awoke to birds chirping and a soft breeze wafting through my window. Our friend took us for a traditional village breakfast: goat cheese, roasted sausage, sautéed peppers, spiced olives—everything fresh beyond words. We sat with our legs outstretched; a brook trickled down through the pines and past our table.
Two boys with half-tucked-in shirts and fruit-smeared cheeks sold us a bag of plums. They had the sweetest smiles and looked as though they spent every day playing in the sunshine and climbing forest trails. We made conversation, and I watched their eyes light up and their smiles grow.
We spent only a weekend at the mountain house, but I wished I could steal the stillness and take it home with me.
As I lay in the tall grass and let ladybugs crawl over my fingers, I thought about how even Jesus sometimes needed to distance Himself from His work and the busyness around Him in order to connect with His Father. Often, it seems, He managed to slip away to a secluded spot alone,[Mark 1:35; 6:46–47; Luke 5:15; 6:12] but I imagine there were also times when that wasn’t possible and He needed to find His “mountain retreat” in spirit.
Are things any different now? Thousands of years later, the world certainly hasn’t gotten any less chaotic or stressful, and we all struggle sometimes. Our faith and patience are tested. Sometimes we can’t cope any longer. We fall short. We mess up.
The choice is ours, though: to stay in the valley, or get back on the mountain in spirit. Some people resign themselves to life’s gloomy days, but after having tasted the heavenly, I’ll take the mountain!