Day 27-The Jerusalem Mile

David reigned for forty years; seven years and six months in Hebron over Judah, and thirty-three years in Jerusalem over all Israel and Judah. 2 Samuel 5:4-5

“As a young man, Lincoln had a ferocious hunger for fame and power, to the point where he was scared by the intensity of his own hunger. But preserving the Union was a summons so great that considerations of self no longer mattered. He left personal reputation behind and set off on his second mountain.”

-The Second Mountain, David Brooks

Have you ever read a book so great that you started recommending it to family and friends before you’re even finished? That’s a rarity for me, but that’s this book- The Second Mountain.

I pray about books a lot. Lord, send me a book to read, send me the one you want me to read. I’ve prayed this prayer many times. I want just the right book at the right time and I want it to be given to me by God. This is how I know that I am supposed to be reading it. This is how I know it’s for me. 

I was at a political event when it happened. Unsuspecting, it was during an installation speech. A new King was coming into office and I one of the loyal subjects was sitting in the audience. This I knew would usher us into a new time and space and I was overjoyed at the crowning of a new and worthy King.

A colleague of mine was chosen to pick the words that would form the basis of the road ahead. I listened intently, eager to hear what she had to say. She began talking about this book she was reading, The Second Mountain. I had never heard of the book or the concept, but I was open. She read from this passage from the book to explain the second mountain,

“If the first mountain is about building up the ego and defining the self, the second mountain is about shedding the ego.”

I was intrigued

We tend to get comfortable. We don’t want to leave those places. The risks are known and the stakes are low. We can serve self there, make a career, become moms, do what the world has told us to do. But then we all hit that point. The job no longer satisfies, the work of a stay-at-home-mom becomes labor instead of joy, the things we think we wanted become null and devoid of any pleasure.

It is more than a mid life crisis, it is a crisis of self

David had a good run in Hebron, but his longest run was in Jerusalem. With bigger cities come bigger problems. But Jerusalem was certainly his learning place, his shedding of ego.

Jerusalem was more than himself

I imagine lots of people stay on that first mountain. They stay stuck. They read bible on surface and pray on the very top layer of the ocean. But don’t you want to be on that second wave? The words beneath the words, the prayer underneath the ocean, the places and spaces that scare you but bring you to where God wants you to be?

These are rarely physical moves or changes in position. They are the right -where -you- are transformations of God. They are the deeper level, the carving of self by God’s hand.

The first time you do it for yourself. The second time you do it for something more than yourself, you do it for God.

If today you see the peak of that second mountain, don’t run from it, embrace it. You’ve been in Hebron for quite some time. It’s time to go to Jerusalem.

Let us pray

Heavenly Father,

I oftentimes get scared of the places that you want to take me. I have pre-conceived notions of what that looks like. But I want to go deeper Father. I want to understand the meaning behind the scripture, I want you to prompt my prayers and I want to do this in order to grow closer to you and be God -centered instead of self-centered. I know that I cannot get to my second mountain until I go deeper, so lead me Lord on that arduous but needed spiritual hike in my soul.

I am ready to go to Jerusalem.


8 thoughts on “Day 27-The Jerusalem Mile

  1. “That others may be praised and I go unnoticed, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
    That others may be preferred to me in everything, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
    That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. “

    St. Teresa of Avila in her autobiography speaks beautifully on prayer. She uses the imagery of a well and a garden. As I remember, initial prayer is like sending a bucket down the well and getting sludge. However, it takes constant prayer to be able to bring forth living water to produce the beauty of the garden.

    Honestly, I’m perplexed by the works and faith debate. Adam walked in friendship with God. If we understand what is friendship, a friendship that one merely has faith in is a friendship that doesn’t produce a whole lot. Friendship is an active experience. God is in active pursuit of us. However, we must go to him. Christ says, “Knock and the door will be opened.” He doesn’t say arrive at the door and believe it open—but knock. Prayer is a lifeline of communication toward God. The liturgy, sacraments, and devotions are a lifeline toward God. So, the idea that these are “works” and should be avoided is not considering that friendship is an active participation—faith is verb; not a state of being—not a nirvana.

    It is the ordering of our will toward the will of God. And if we cannot order our will toward God’s then we are in a servile relationship to God. And this is in contradiction to Christ’s words when he says:

    John 15:10 If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.

    John 15:14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.

    John 15:15 I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.

    In fact, Christ is speaking to us how the vine infuses and gives grace to the branches to bear fruits. So, perhaps, a Catholic should reply, “I do no works, but I bear fruits of Christ.”

    Good fruits produced on the branches are still the product of the vine. However, not all branches produce Christ fruits (works). Christ does give a warning to the branches who do not bear His fruit:

    John 15:4 Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me.

    John 15:6 Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Melissa Zelniker-Presser

      Yes. I see this as my Teresa of Avila “light” post. The saints are sometimes hard to digest. Sometimes I take their words of wisdom and swirl them in my soul into a more digestible form.

      You put it so eloquently, I couldn’t have said it better.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. “You put it so eloquently, I couldn’t have said it better.”

        No way! I think most would admit you a writer at a professional level—so you better be getting that book in the works!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Melissa Zelniker-Presser

        Sometimes we hear things louder when the words echoe off the souls of others. You were an amplifier!

        These posts will somehow morph into the book. Seems this may be the preview to the publshed. Thanks for letting me work out my fears on stage.

        Liked by 1 person

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