When I was growing up, the first sound of the cuckoo was considered to be the heralding of summer. Today is Easter Monday, but I heard the cuckoo calling whilst I was out on my walk today, so I am officially calling it summer, after all the temperature was in the 20’s, rare even in summer, in Scotland.
My walk today was a walk with God. God is always present with me on my walks, but I seldom talk to God on them, but today was different. Today I decided that I was going to walk up Goatfell, which is a 874 metres ascent, and that I was going to do with God, as i was doing it alone. As you can see from this picture, it is a phenomenal place, but scary, at times very scary. But that is not how I knew that God was walking with me today.
My alarm was set for 5.15 am, and I woke to a near full moon size moon shining in the bedroom window, a glorious start to the day. I love the peace and quiet of early mornings, it is a special time of the day for me. After a cup of coffee made by my lovely husband, I packed my bag and set off. The air was cool, but full of promise for the day ahead. Within an hour, I had driven to the ferry terminal, swopped my driving boots for hiking ones, and was on the ferry over to the Isle of Arran. Within 3 hours of my alarm going off, I was getting off the bus and heading up Goatfell.
The track starts off climbing gently, through a tree covered path, but the trees soon come to an end, and you are out in clear country, with the sun streaming down. At 8.30 am it was very pleasant to walk, but as the day wore on, it got hotter. It was not long before I heard the sound of the cuckoo, and was happy to call it summer, as the sun poured down all day.
I was happy at this stage, to be out there on my own. Several people had passed me on the way up so far, but I was more than happy to walk at my own pace, with my own thoughts. When the path started to get tougher, I was reminded that a walk with God, is like a walk through life. There are some very pleasant parts to life, but then there are the not so pleasant parts in life, when the going gets a bit tougher. It is generally at times like this that we remember God, and call on God for help, but even before I got into trouble I asked God to be with me, beside me, walking alongside me.
About two thirds of the way up, my troublesome toe started to let me know, that it meant business today. Once it had kicked in, then it truly kicked in, and I was beginning to doubt if I would make it to the top at all. One issue with going to an island to walk, is that you are very much ruled by the ferry times, and I had thought that I could get up and back down again in 4 1/2 hours, and be in with a chance of catching a ferry back, just after lunchtime. My toe told me very firmly that that goal was not one that was going to be achieved today. I had taken the wise decision to pack some painkillers in my bag, and so I sat down, took my boot off, twiddled the offending toe, and replaced the boot, before taking a couple of tablets. After 5 or 10 minutes, all seemed well, and it was much more comfortable, but my happiness was to be shortlived. Before too long, my toe was extremely painful again, and I was beginning to worry. Worry about whether or not I was going to make it to the top, but worrying even more that the pain would be even worse on the way down. You can see from this photo that we are not talking a normal walk in the country. The terrain is now climbing in places over granite rocks and boulders, some of them needing a real “kick-off” from the back foot, which is what I was finding most painful.
Another dose of painkillers wasn’t really an option, so soon after the first dose, if I valued my liver. A mild panic began to set in, this was not only this trek that I might not manage to the goal, but it may also jeopardise the whole Kilimanjaro one. If my toe stopped me keeping up a good pace, then I was risking holding up the whole team. My leg muscles started to feel a tad weak, and I wondered what I was doing on the side of this mountain on my own, only I wasn’t on my own, I was with God. (I still swore that this was my last time climbing Goatfell though. Well at least until the next time.)
And so I prayed and asked for healing of my toe, in Jesus name, and repeated my simple mantra that I tell everyone to do when they feel overwhelmed. It goes like this:
I am happy, healthy and wealthy
only in this instance I said
My toe is happy and healthy
I repeated it about 5 times, and with each step my toe hurt less and less. It was almost instant, but just to be on the safe side, I repeated the affirmation a few more times. Now for those of you who are reading this, and don’t believe in God because you can’t prove he/she exists (I want to thank you for reading this far) I would say that this was proof enough for me. I was so grateful that I could reach my end goal knowing that God had my back, or in this instance, toe?
I continued to almost hop skip and jump up to the summit of Goatfell. I had hoped to climb up in three hours, but was a little over that, but was quite happy given the circumstances.
It was so beautiful up there, that I took my time relishing the view, and the sensation of achievement. After reaching the summit, I wanted to spend some time enjoying the moment. I took my boots off and gave my feet some space to wriggle without the confines of my walking boots. I sent a text to my husband and ate my delicious sandwich made by him. I really value the support he is giving me in this endeavor, to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro.
The route down was hot and dusty. Many people were out on Goatfell coming up as I was heading down. The early morning uppers were dressed appropriately, in hiking boots with back packs, hats and water bottles. As I came down. I was met by a constant stream of tourists, kitted out in trainers, bared shoulders and not a kit bag, however small in sight. My thoughts were with them, and how they would feel that evening. Would there elation turn to pain, as the effects of the sun took it’s toll on their bodies?
My last meeting with God on Goatfell was in the last couple of hundred yards or so. Several people had overtaken me, I was in no hurry, I had a couple of hours or so until the next ferry, to take me back to the mainland. This elderly gentleman fell into step with me. He had also come over for the day, to walk Goatfell. He informed me that because it was Easter weekend, the ferries were running a summer service, which included a mid-afternoon ferry, which if I kept on walking back to Brodick without stopping for a drink, or an ice-cream, I should be able to make. I thanked him for his piece of knowledge and gave the long- awaited ice cold drink a miss, and carried straight on to the ferry terminal. I could see the CalMac ferry approaching Arran, so I knew that, true to his word, a summer scheduled ferry was running.
Within 7 hours of taking my first step off the bus and up Goatfell, I was sat on the return ferry heading for home. After a long bath to wash the dust off me, I lay on my bed, which is where I stayed for the rest of the evening, savouring my achievement, knowing that on my Kilimanjaro trek, although I may do a similar ascent one day, I won’t have to do the descent on the same day.
Thank you for reading to the end. tell me, how do you know that God is with you?