A reading from the prophet Hosea: Thus says the LORD:
I will allure her;
I will lead her into the desert
and speak to her heart.
She shall respond there as in the days of her youth,
when she came up from the land of Egypt.
On that day, says the LORD,
She shall call me “My husband,”
and never again “My baal.”
I will espouse you to me forever:
I will espouse you in right and in justice,
in love and in mercy;
I will espouse you in fidelity,
and you shall know the LORD.
Reflection I will lead her into the desert and speak to her heart.
There are trials in our lives that we know we would never have chosen for ourselves. Yet, with retrospection, we know we are better for it and are so grateful for it.
A year ago, through the dead of winter, I took a week-long coastal hike through the bushland. It was our first time on this track. It changed me.
We do walks often enough and try to prepare well but there were so many factors out of our control that week. Namely it rained for days prior and during the trip. This made the track drenched and muddy on what was already a steep and difficult trail. We were faced with the rugged steep valleys, slippery rocky mountain climbs and each with our own thirty-pound backpack. Each day we were constantly surprised and challenged by the harshness of the weather and the toughness of the track. Each day our spirits were tested a little more. The landscape changed quickly from marshland to hills, to valleys, to rivers.
By noon on the fourth day, the three of us found ourselves facing a track that was carved out of the edge of a cliff facing the ocean. A track that was at times, two foot wide. The ground was slippery. we had one hand on the cliff, and the other outstretched to the sea to keep balanced. It was difficult and we began to slow down to our own pace. Because the cliff was windy at times, there was a long stretch of time when we were separated from view of each other. I found myself facing the fierce ocean to my right, a cliff wall to my left, the sky up above, and a slippery muddy track at my feet, and the weight of my bag on my shoulders. The road up ahead of me were covered in boulders that needed scaling. The road behind somehow seemed darker and closed. I could not back track nor did I see a way forward. It was tiring and terrifying. It was lonely and incredibly silent. Despite the tempest around me. That day nothing else was more real to me than my own breath and my maker. I could have died on that walk but I didn’t. I would have not gone on that walk had I known its difficulties, but I also would not have learnt to appreciate my life as much as I do now. Nor would I know to trust in His providence in the same way. I learnt that every deep trial we go through, God would not allow it if it were not to prepare our hearts for something greater that He wants to give us. Often, He doesn’t show us the whole picture or else we would be too afraid to take the steps to go through with it. Yet He is with us and ultimately, He asks us to trust in His plan for each of our lives. I was not left forgotten on the edge of the cliff that day. He showed me a way through it. Nor are you ever forgotten in your own desert.