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“What can you tell me about that mountain?” I asked, pointing in the direction of the mountain behind the lodge. The lodge owner looked at me thoughtfully and replied, “What do you want to know about it?” Then extending his hand to me, he said, “By the way, my name is Joseph.”
I felt the firm but warm grip of a hand used to hard work and replied, “I, uh, met someone there and am curious about its history.”
“Well, my grandfather called it ga-na-nu-go-wi-sv. It’s Cherokee for Revelation. We know it as Revelation Mountain.”
I was to learn later that Joseph was a prominent elder in the local Indian tribe. His long, graying hair was tied back, fully exposing many years of experience on his tanned face and rugged neck. There was a peculiar fire in his eyes, which looked like open windows of an old log cabin with a burning hearth. One only needed to peek into those windows to see the glow in his heart. His eyes possessed a deep wisdom and oneness with the land and rivers that he and his forefathers had stewarded throughout many long centuries.
“How did this mountain get its name?” I asked with great interest.
“Traditions say that the Great Spirit took some of the earth from this mountain, mixed it with water from the stream at its base, kindled a fire within it, and formed our first father and mother with a word from His mouth. We are that mountain. It is in our blood and in our face, and we cannot separate ourselves from it. It is sacred to us. It speaks to us every day with a voice that others ignore, and our way of life is governed by its revelation.”
“Have you seen any caves on the mountain?” I asked.
He paused for a moment, looking around the lobby to see if anyone was in the vicinity. Then looking at me intently, he lowered his voice and asked me with great seriousness, “Did you find the cave? Have you heard the Voice?”
I was taken aback by the sudden boldness of his question, for I had determined not to reveal my discovery to anyone. “Yes, I found a cave yesterday, and since I had a good flashlight in my backpack, I thought I would explore it just a little. That is when I saw a light deep in the mountain coming from a crack in the wall, and then I heard the Voice. It seemed to speak to me from deep within the heart of the mountain.”
“I knew it!” he said with a hoarse whisper. “When you walked into the lodge last evening, I saw a glow on your face and knew that you were one of the changed ones!”
“You saw that?” I asked. “But how? No one else seemed to notice any glow.”
“No, the fire has just now been kindled, and it is yet dim. All great things begin as tiny seeds. The more you hear and the more you are in the presence of that Voice, the stronger the fire in you will grow. My grandfather told me many years ago that there is a presence in the mountain that can change us from the inside, if it is revealed to us. It is said that the Spirit of the mountain appears only as a fire, 9 and that we are changed by beholding Him.” 10
“Have you seen this fire, then?”
“Many years ago I entered this cave and heard the Voice of the Mountain, even as my father and my grandfathers before them. Though we are all one with the earth and the mountain, we must each hear the Voice for ourselves in order to kindle its fire in our hearts. It is important to meet and to know the One in the fire for ourselves.”
He paused again before continuing: “We were created with a veil of flesh 11 that hides the sacred fire within from those who are unaware of its presence. If you have seen the fire, then the Spirit of the Mountain has removed the veil from your eyes. No one sees Him unless He removes this veil.”
“But,” I asked, “how did the veil lift from off my face? I did nothing that I know of. I was only hiking the beautiful trail and was preoccupied with the beauty of nature surrounding me. In fact, I was praising the Creator for His handiwork when I turned off the trail to explore a tiny canyon. That is when I spotted the cave hidden behind some brush.”
Joseph smiled knowingly. “Ah, so you found one of the gates of praise. 12 Most men walk along the invisible wall and are unaware of anything beyond their mental comprehension. There are times when the wall leads to a gate, and if men find a pearl of praise 13 in their hearts, the gate will open to them, and they will have access to a kingdom in another dimension. Though you did not understand what was happening at the time, the gate heard your praise, discerned gratefulness in your heart, and welcomed your love with open arms.”
He continued after a short pause, as if to let this sink into my spirit. “All flesh is a veil that hides the fire within and deceives men into thinking that there is no inner fire. But there are certain moments in life that men pass a spiritual gate, and if the conditions are right, it will open to reveal truth about things hidden on the other side of the universe. But the Spirit of Revelation Mountain must remove the veil in order for any man to see these things, for the Mountain has a will of its own. That is why it is called Revelation Mountain. It means to remove the veil of flesh, 14 so that we may find the link between heaven and earth and become one with Him.”
“One with Him, one with Him,” I muttered. “That must be the meaning of the word that the Voice spoke to me.”
“What did he say?” Joseph asked.
“He spoke of agreement, as if it were better than obedience.”
“Yes!” Joseph said, leaning back slowly with a contemplative look in his eyes. “Obedience is good, but it implies submission to the will of another even though our own will disagrees or does not understand. An obedient heart complies but finds it difficult to be thankful. On the other hand, a heart of thankfulness and praise indicates agreement. It shows enthusiasm for all that comes our way, whether our flesh thinks it is good or evil.”
“This was His purpose from the beginning,” he continued. “When I was a child, my grandfather told me that the deep desire of the Spirit of the Mountain is to be one with us and to do all things with a common purpose, motivated by the same desire. It is love that makes the Spirit dissatisfied with mere obedience, because perfect love pursues until it achieves unity of heart and will that is expressed by praise.”
Speechless, I could only look at him with amazement.
“I can see that the fire in you is growing,” Joseph continued. “It is transforming you even now as you gain understanding.”
The thought suddenly occurred to me that Joseph had already achieved some level of oneness with the Voice, because it was as if the Voice were speaking through him. It was as if my conversation the day before were continuing through Joseph, and that he himself was a piece of the mountain in which the fire had lodged itself. The same shock that I had felt in the cave suddenly swept over me, gentler, but unmistakable, and I felt again the clear presence of the Voice from the crack.
There was fire on the hearth of Joseph’s innermost being, an altar to God, and as I looked into his eyes, it seemed that I was being drawn to make a sacrifice of flesh upon that altar, to give up some fleshly thing that was incompatible with that dimension beyond, and to worship the God of the Mountain. It was an ancient altar, not limited to him alone, but to all of his ancestors who had heard the same Voice back to the dim recesses of time to the secret borders of a timeless age. The stones of that altar had not been shaped with tools from human hands, 15 but imperceptibly by the slow and relentless erosion of the river of life.
That same altar, I perceived, was in me as well, for in that timeless dimension we are all one and there is no space separating us from each other or from the Voice. We are bound together by the power of love and the irresistible purpose of the Creator Himself. The day would come in the distant future when its power would overcome the fear that is in all flesh, the fear that repels and separates all men who remain outside the gates of praise.
Joseph again broke the contemplative silence. “The fire has been lit inside of you,” he said, pointing at my heart. “Tend it well, and do not let it go out. The fire has died out in the hearts of many, and they have had difficulty getting it back. Most of them, not knowing the laws of nature, have tried to reignite the fire themselves, not realizing that it is strange fire. 16 The only fire that is acceptable is that which comes from the Voice. If you would be a priest to others, you must possess the wise fire that originates deep in the mountain. So take heed.”
At that moment a car pulled up to the door of the lodge, and customers began to unload. Joseph began to move toward the door to greet them. Then he turned to say a final word. “Follow the path along the stream at the base of the mountain. Perhaps you will receive further instruction.” By then, men were coming through the door, and Joseph turned to welcome them.
I picked up my staff, put on my “Indie” hat, and left the lodge to see if I might encounter further wisdom and understanding at the base of Revelation Mountain.