When I arrived in Burundi in early May I was greeted by the mountain-scape. I could enjoy the view from my bedroom window each morning. I love having them so close at hand - as if I can reach out and touch them after a morning stretch. Somehow, seeing them off in the distance was comforting. It was as if, in some mystical way, the mountains became like guardians. But I have not seen the mountains since June, when the weather patterns changed. Haze clouds my view - a combination of dirt and dust, pollution suspended mid-air, and other dynamics that remain a mystery to me. I must say it again, I miss seeing the mountains.
This longing to see the mountains of Congo again has become a metaphor, of sorts. I think of our work with the poor of Burundi, our friends. I have seen, large as any mountain range, the goodness of the work. I have seen with clarity the homes built since June, the land cleared and cultivated - now embracing potato, cabbage and carrot seeds, I have seen children transformed into students in gleaming new uniforms. I have seen evidence that good things are at work - and at close range. But there has been a haze settling in recently. The last few weeks have brought in dust and debris that has obscured my view. It is, I suppose, inevitable. Weather patterns change. External elements shift and I cannot control them, I must wait them out until the rains or winds come. Until then, I have to remember that the mountains are there. Despite what I see (or feel), the goodness is there hidden behind the haze of hurt feelings, distrust and sadness.
I could get to the mountains if I wanted - I could hire a taxi and endure the jostling journey from Bujumbura to the Congolese border. I could drive into the heart of those mountains, because they are there beyond view. The mountains have not moved, they are steady and ever-present. They are not ontologically changed because I cannot see them, they remain. I know this to be true about mountains, about goodness and about God Himself.
Beyond the haze that can cloud our vision, God is present like the mountains of Congo. He is steady, vibrant and with a loving largesse that grounds my world. Haze will come, it is as sure as the shifting weather patterns and turning seasons. But He is present. He is at hand. The clouds do not cause me to doubt Him, only to long to see Him more clearly in the coming days.
I crave the sight of my beloved mountains. I long to see those green guardians again, to stand in awe of their majestic magnitude. I wait for the winds of change (and rains) to come and reveal them once again. I miss seeing the mountains...
"I will look to the mountains..."