From the Preface
Mountains of the Moon is a compendium of thoughts and writings from my five years as a contributing and then managing editor of the weekly church newsletter, “The Journey This Week.” The newsletter served as a way to keep people in touch with what happened on a Sunday, and we generally included an article based on the weekly sermon. The article wasn’t to be a rehash of the sermon—it was a point of departure for a meditation or essay, and along with scripture, quotes of wisdom, and a set of questions, it became a communication tool to remind members and interested readers what Snoqualmie Valley Alliance (SVA) was doing from week to week.
In 2009 I was approached by Tanya Hodel to contribute to the newsletter. Tanya was a founding member of our writing group, The Writers’ Bloc, and in spite of what she saw me write, she included me as contributor. It was a bit scary to write something with the official stamp of approval for the church—it’s a great responsibility to be honest, truthful, respectful, and obedient, and not simply write what I wanted.
It was like the journey itself, where we have the words from God: we listen to them; we attempt to figure them out and apply them to our lives; we carefully build upon our knowledge with new knowledge; we work hard to acquire wisdom along with knowledge; and we compare over time what we say we believe with how we act.
I tried to be as honest as I could in writing with the caveat of being respectful, orderly, and obedient to the church’s mission. This doesn’t mean anything more than I tried to be both personal and neutral, forthright and well-behaved, an individual writing about my own journey and someone who knew that the journey was universal and everyone has their own road to walk.
I was not, and am not, an official voice of the church, and I do not claim to speak any great truths or be an expert in any belief. This is simply 100 or so essays of what I was thinking as I responded to the words spoken from the pulpit. There is nothing here beyond that: this is not a book of Christian theology or even of what I think we should be doing as good and proper Christians.
I hoped—and still hope—that what I wrote served merely as a starting point for a discussion of your own journey. You won’t reach the same conclusions I did, and you won’t have the same method of relationship with God, with others, and with yourself as I did. The whole point is that you would have your own journey with God, whether you are not quite ready to start and need some advice and assurance, you are well on the way, or you are tying things up in preparation for the end.
It’s just a witness of my thoughts and musings. If you find it useful, then great. If you find it boring and repetitive and useless—well, chuck this aside. There are better books and better writers, and ultimately, of course, there is someone ultimately better to listen to and to follow.
The best advice I can give is what Jesus said to Peter:
Turning his head, Peter noticed the disciple Jesus loved following right behind. When Peter noticed him, he asked Jesus, “Master, what’s going to happen to him?” Jesus said, “If I want him to live until I come again, what’s that to you? You—follow me.” John 21:20-21
The title of the book comes from two things: first, I live in the Snoqualmie Valley in Washington State. “Snoqualmie” is a transliterated Coastal Salish word that means “moon”; the early residents here (before the arrival of Europeans) were known as the “People of the Moon.” The second meaning is an allusion to the moon-ness of a believer’s journey: the moon at best reflects the light of the sun, and of course the mountains are a nod to one of my favorite author’s description of the deeper journey into life: to ascend further up and farther in.