“I never thought
that mountains could be moved
That they could be cast into the sea
I never realized your words
Were Oh so true
Until you moved the one in me.”
- Reed Hess
I haven’t heard these lyrics in over twenty years, but I can still remember how I felt that morning in 1985 when I tiptoed down the stairs of our basement recording studio as singer/songwriter Reed Hess was laying down vocal tracks from behind the glass window where he sat, eyes closed, alone in front of the piano.
I can remember the horrid burnt orange and brown sculptured loop carpeting with raw edges that covered the narrow stairs leading down into the control room. And how it felt to run my fingertips along the front edge of that scratchy step, where I had stopped halfway down the stairs, as Reed’s rich voice practically prayed those words into the microphone and burned them onto my heart.
To know that mountains could be moved. That was what I wanted. And Reed had found the words to express my deepest hopes. I can still hear the timbre of his voice singing what I had been praying each day…that decades of fear and despair in me could be dissolved….that mountains could be moved.
I believed in God. I trusted that He loved me and that He had the power to heal every sickness, raise the dead, and transform the sinner. But I didn’t truly really know if He could move the mountains (and there was a range of them) in my heart.
Yes, there had been progress in my spiritual excavation since returning to the study and practice of Christian Science. I had absorbed the universal truths it explained and had discovered how practical its application was in my life. I had taken an advanced course in how to heal spiritually and had left a long career in education to devote my life to helping others as a Christian Science practitioner. I had experienced and witnessed healing of urgent, chronic, heredity-based and acute physical, emotional, financial, and relationship challenges. I was absolutely confident in God’s supreme power…as in heaven, so on earth.
I was an active member of my church and I was dedicated to this Bible-based approach to living. I shared it with anyone and everyone I met. I was sure, confident, certain of God’s love…for everyone but me. I had seen so many lies about man’s perfection dissolve when placed under the light of God’s love for others…but could not imagine it would ever really get at the deep dark stuff in my life. Other people’s problems just weren’t true…that was easy for me to see. But I was fully aware…up close and personal…. of all my misdeeds and I knew that they had actually taken place and I felt that my memory of them was pretty accurate. And that accurate picture was hard to swallow. In most cases it was hard to forgive and especially hard to forget. I had made many mistakes and could see how reasonable it was that my mountains of guilt and self-doubt were not only justified….but there to stay.
When I heard Reed’s voice pour out of the speakers in the control room, I wanted to tear through the door and ask him what it felt like when God moved his mountains. I sat on the step waiting for him to emerge from the cocoon of silence. When he did, I asked him.
“Oh,” he said with a sigh, “it feels just like it sounds…like a mountain has been lifted from your soul…”
“But what do I have to do?” I pleaded.
I felt like I was in an old Kung Fu episode where “Grasshopper” returns in hazy memory to a moment with his Master. They are alone in soft light and seen through a filtered lens. The child version of the David Carradine character waits for the Master to share a profound, life-saving wisdom.
“Well”, Reed replied, with eyes that were kinder than I thought I deserved, “what did Jesus say?”
“Oh my God!” I thought. “Is this some kind of born-again brush off? Does this look like a Christian rally with WWJD (what would Jesus do?) buttons and bumper stickers being passed out like Koolaid at Jonestown? No, this was a deeply wounded person asking for direction, humiliating herself in front of one of her husband’s clients and friends.”
What did Jesus say? Please, I was very familiar with Jesus’ statement to his disciples. I didn’t even have to look it up.
“And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.
For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, "Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea," and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass he shall have whatsoever he saith.
Therefore I say unto you, "What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them."
I politely thanked him and filed his response away….far away. Once again I was sure I had misread something that had appeared to me to be God’s brilliant light of inspiration.
I continued for years to pray. The looming burden of my mountains became less daunting in the context of a growing sense of rightness I felt about myself and my place in the world…especially the spiritual community I served. I gave of myself, and I got approval, admiration and respect. My giving was genuine, the acceptance was authentic. This went on for many years as I gave more generously, served more tirelessly and got more…acceptance, respect, approval. My mountains, however, had not been removed…instead my view of them had become more distorted while I squinted my eyes in the bright light of admiration.
Quite often that verse from Reed’s song would wash over my heart, or wander through my thoughts like a babbling brook discovered as a refreshing surprise on a long hike. I’d drink from it and then pick up my pack and keep going. But I never asked myself why a song that I had only heard briefly was still running through my thoughts in perfect clarity….every word remembered, every note perfect, the singer’s voice as fresh and full in recall as it was the first time I heard it. I didn’t ask why because I was a busy wife, mother, church member, healer, community advocate…so I must be alright….right?
All this came crashing down around me the first time I did something that stripped me of the world’s approval. I felt as if I was once again that young woman (this time not so young) sitting on those scratchy orange and brown steps burdened by my sorrows and mistakes…hungry for freedom from depression and self-doubt. The mountains in me were looming, I felt their menacing presence….
And, again, Reed’s song came to me:
“I never thought
that mountains could be moved...
that they could be cast into the sea.
I never realized your words
were, Oh, so true
until you moved the one in me.
Until you moved the one in me...”
These words returned over and over until one dark night...when the mountains of regret and sorrow sat so heavily on my heart that I didn’t think I could breathe...I also remembered his answer to my question “What do I need to do? This was a dialogue that I was sure I had stored far, far away from thought. “What did Jesus say?” echoed through time and space. I surrendered to Reed’s response and decided to see what, I thought I already knew, Jesus had said. I got up from bed and went to the Bible sitting on my desk and opened it to Mark:
“And Jesus, answering, saith unto them, "Have faith in God.
For verily I say unto you: that whosoever shall say unto this mountain, 'Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea," and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.
Therefore I say unto you, "What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”
But this time it was as if the next line was illumined by a spotlight:
“And when ye stand praying, forgive..”
I think I could now tell you what it feels like to have a mountain removed and cast into the sea.
"I never realized your words
Were Oh so true
Until you moved the one in me…"
Since I don't have access to an online accessible recording of Reed Hess' "The One in Me," here is a link to Sara Renner's website where, if you scroll down the index of songs on the left margin, you can click on a sample of her song "Forgive." Sara has also given me permission to have "Forgive" as one of the three songs that keynote my website...and I am so deeply grateful. If you go to the music player in the bottom left of the homepage, "Forgive" is the third song (after Michelle Armstrong's "Unfallen" and Mindy Jostyn's "In His Eyes") that will automatically start playing when the home page opens. If you would like to go straight to Sara's song, you can advance the player to the 7:56 minute marker. Otherwise, enjoy the gift of these healing songs from three extraordinary spiritual singer/songwriters.