The mountains quake

Chapter 21

Good Monday Morning to this week 21 of 2021

A volcanic eruption in eastern Congo left a smoking trail of destruction half a mile wide on Sunday that buried hundreds of houses and left residents searching for missing loved ones, before halting just short of the city of Goma. Mount Nyiragongo, is one of the world’s most active and dangerous volcanoes, erupted, turning the night sky an eerie red and sending a wall of orange lava downhill towards the lakeside city of about 1 million.

I grew up next to Mount Giluwe, 4367m one of highest peaks of Papua New Guinea. Though dormant, we learnt many of the signs of activity including smoke, or a warm water stream near our home. This volcano is part of my walk with God and finding him amidst fear of a new eruption.

The world’s largest volcanic eruption to happen in the past 100 years was on June 15, 1991, the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines after being dormant for 600 years. The ash cloud turned day to night, many thought this was the end of life. The eruption was so fierce that that the ash caused global temperatures to be lower for two years. With Global Network I travelled there a few months after the eruption to do ministry and relief work in Zambales for the following 2 years.

 In the story of Moses, Sinai was enveloped in a cloud, it quaked and was filled with smoke, while lightning-flashes shot forth, and the roar of thunder mingled with the blasts of a trumpet; the account later adds that fire was seen burning at the summit of the mountain. In the biblical account, the fire and clouds are a direct consequence of the arrival of God upon the mountain. According to the biblical story, Moses departed to the mountain and stayed there for 40 days and nights in to receive the Ten Commandments.

There are many more references in the writings of the Old Testament in regard to volcanos.

Deuteronomy 4:11, 5.23 And ye came near and stood under the mountain; and the mountain burned with fire unto the midst of heaven, with darkness, clouds, and thick darkness. And it came to pass, when ye heard the voice out of the midst of the darkness, (for the mountain did burn with fire,) that ye came near unto me, even all the heads of your tribes, and your elders. Or in Judges; The mountains melted from before the LORD, even that Sinai from before the LORD God of Israel. Or in Psalms, The hills melted like wax at the presence of the LORD, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth. He looketh on the earth, and it trembleth: he toucheth the hills, and they smoke. Bow thy heavens, O LORD, and come down: touch the mountains, and they shall smoke. Or another prophet Isaiah. And the streams thereof shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch. It shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up for ever: from generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it for ever and ever. Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence. As when the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil, to make thy name known to thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at thy presence! When thou didst terrible things which we looked not for, thou camest down, the mountains flowed down at thy presence.

 In these writings of volcanos and in the experience of living close to a volcano, it represents anger, vengeance, revenge, emotions, hidden emotions, destruction and unpredictable situations of life. On the positive side, lava and ash deposited during an eruption breaks down to provide valuable nutrients for the soil, this creates very fertile soil which is good for agriculture.

There has been a lot written about the connection between volcanos and creation or even the creator God. In the current time man feels himself isolated from the cosmos. He is no longer involved in nature or has lost the emotional participation to natural events and their symbolic meaning. Thunder is no longer the voice of God, no river contains a spirit as no tree means a persons life, no snake the embodiment of wisdom, no mountain bears or carries the great daemon.

Herein maybe lies one of troubles with humankind. The great umbilical cord that once existed between human beings and the natural world has been severed. That which was once part of the natural human understanding has become hidden or is not longer existent.

We could take the stance on the volcano and call it a living thing with it’s own stories and behaviours, eccentricities with all it’s activity and unpredictability, a rock of the earth in the most living and changeable form, tremendous and powerful.

The volcano with it’s active living spirit of magna, gas, steam and rock not to mention the beauty and terror has inspired many through it’s natural activity. Before the 19th century the medieval Christian mind portrays volcanos as the portals of the abyss of hell. Yet, the the very word volcano is derived from the Latin vulcanus, the Roman god of fire. Christian symbolism emphasis in on the dualities, a need for wholeness, good and evil yet coming from the same as portrayed in nature with the volcano. This raises the question if there is a possibility that these two powers can live alongside one another and coexist? Rather than seeing volcanos as portals to the abyss another metaphor would be to see them as centers of the cosmos where formlessness, movement and response exist and bring them to the center of creating the new.

Back to Goma, I pray for the people, those who have lost loved one, kids that have lost their parents and those who lost house, home, land and much more. God have mercy.

For us, i see this devotional as a call to remember the creator, calling on him to use the power of formlessness to create movement and response in the many difficult situations of our lives.

Wishing you a blessed Monday and good start to this week.

Philemon

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