Treading Gladly

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Treading Gladly

" And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: 'Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown'.
And he replied: 'Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way'.
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night"

(from "God Knows" by Minnie Louise Haskins)

In May we had a holiday on the Greek Island of Crete — our first ever there, and deliberately planned to be quiet and relaxing, rather than a tour of historical sites.

We had rented a flat, in a rural area, surrounded by olive groves, with hens, sheep and goats roaming around, on the edge of a small and very typical Cretan village. Apart from barking dogs, it was idyllic!

I set myself a day's challenge of walking 26 km from our village, along the unmade coastal track, which would eventually take me the length of the Gramvousa Pennsula and over the top of the hill (208meter elevation) down to the famous Blue Lagoon of Balos on the other side. I had established that there and back would be about 7 hours walking.

Rob was making the same journey, but by boat, and we hoped to meet up at the lagoon.

His boat was booked for a day that turned out to be one of our hottest 30', so I was committed, although a little apprehensive. I had the boots, the walking poles, a wide- brimmed hat, nearly 2 litres of water on my back as well as a packed lunch. Having done my preparation, I next had to step out in faith.

I love walking on my own: it's a chance to be silent, to think, to listen, to take in one's surroundings. I also like the buzz of a new adventure: a mixture of trepidation and anticipation. Having left at 8.40am in the relative cool of morning, the temperature rose, as did the gradient, and shade became the focus of my concerns. Yet each time the heat threatened to overcome me, a tree appeared and I usurped the sheltering sheep, or a cave inhabited by goats, that skittered off, their neck bells tinkling, or a trackside chapel. I even found a beach shack that sold water to refill my stock.

The lagoon is beautiful from above, but the walk through local herbs and protected flora made it for me. Rob and I met for an hour — a couple of oldies in a romantic tryst! — and thankfully I reached "home" safely with only a large blister on each sole as my penalty.

No one need go far for such beautiful surroundings: others have spoken to me of the awe and wonder experienced on a morning walk round King's Pond, catching sight of goslings and cygnets in the early light of a glorious day; the local bluebell woods have been a joy. We are truly blessed to live in such a delightful part of the world.

Nor is stepping out in faith all about walking: how many of us know that fear grip us as we head for the operating theatre or go into the tunnel of the MRI? It is often at our most vulnerable that we can sense God's presence — and we need to be prepared just to trust..... in that dark place within us.

As we end this Methodist year, and face the start of a new one in September, may we "tread safely into the unknown.", our hands in God's hands.

Karen L Booker ( Pastoral Assistant at AMC)

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