On this mountain the Lord of hosts will prepare for all people a banquet of rich food and of fine wines. (Isaiah 256)
On this mountain God will … wipe away the tears from every cheek. (Isaiah 25:7-8)
We rejoice and celebrate for God has saved us; the hand of the Lord rests on this mountain. (Isaiah 25:10)
One of the most precious lessons we learn from our indigenous brothers and sisters is about the sacredness of place. The physical land on which we live and the environment all around us holds our stories and our memories. It nourishes us not just physically, but spiritually. This place is where we belong and gives us an identity. It is also the place where we encounter the divine. We are intimately bound to our world; in relationship with it as much as with each other.
One of the costs of the past few months has been the wider loss of connection to place and people. While each of us has become more deeply connected to and aware of our own homes and space, online meetings and screens can never replace the deep connection that happens when we are physically with people in a specific place. Place is not just the setting for our story, but as much a part of the story, maybe even more so, as we are.
This concept is not unique to the first peoples of this ancient land. Traditional cultures the world over have developed this same intimate connection to the land on which they live and which brought them into existence. The ancient Hebrew people forged this same spiritual connection with Mt Sion, or modern day Jerusalem. This sacred mountain became for them a point of gathering, connection and identity. Just as Australia’s first peoples recognise the land as mother and life giver, the ancient wisdom of this Sunday’s first reading and psalm recognise a similar incarnational reality. It was on this mountain that they met their God, were nourished with a “banquet of rich food and fine wine” (Is 25:6) and had “every tear wiped from their cheeks” (Is. 25:8).
Wherever we are, the place itself speaks to us of the creator God who lies beyond, yet is intimately, unilaterally involved in our lives here and now.
As we return to the College this week and re-connect to the ancient land of the Taungurung people on which Assumption College Kilmore is built, the first reading from Isaiah and the beautiful Psalm 23 from this weekend’s liturgy remind us to take time to “rejoice and celebrate”. For in the face of all the difficulties and challenges confronting us this year, this place offers us security and safety, consolation and support, hope and encouragement, guidance and direction.
It will be good to be back together again in this place.