The Ascent of Mount Carmel

The past several days we have been staying at one of the two Carmelite monasteries at the top of Mt. Carmel. While obviously associated with the religious order (of which my mom is a third-order member – hi mom!) Mt. Carmel is also of great importance in the Old Testament, being mentioned twenty-nine times. It is especially associated with the prophet Elijah. It was on Mount Carmel that Elijah challenged the 450 prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18:20-40. He challenges them to determine whose God is the one true God; as the prophets of Baal call upon their God in vain, Elijah sarcastically asks them if their god is sleeping or relieving himself! After Elijah’s sacrifice is taken up to Heaven, the people witnessing the event turn towards God and the unrepentant prophets of Baal are slain. A statue at the second Carmelite monastery (photo on right) is at the traditional location of that event.


A number of us took an opportunity at the top of Mt. Carmel to look over the surrounding area – we saw Nazareth, Mt. Tabor, the Mediterranean Sea, and Caesarea Maritima – had the atmosphere been less smoggy, we could have seen Lebanon and more. A few of us also ate caramels, given to us by Deacon Louis Floeder.

 

The part of the trip to Mt. Carmel that most affected me, though, was Elijah’s cave. It was in this location that it is said Elijah stayed throughout his travels, especially in 1 Kings 19. After staying in the cave, the following happens:

Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came [the voice of the Lord] to him.

It was in the silence that the Lord was found. Praying in the cave, there was a silence and peace which came over me. I felt sure of the Lord’s presence and His asking me to trust in Him and allow myself to be protected by Him. Amidst the noise of our daily life, let us take time to allow ourselves to be in the silence, to hear Him in that silence, and experience His love for us.

 

-Paul Hedman