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Day Four – Novena from Israel

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Today, I climbed Mount Arbel. I was told be an expert hiker who lives in Israel Thad one could just take the home on the sloping side of the mountain and make it easily enough to the top.

Even one in marginal shape can do this if she takes her time.

Good, I thought. That describes me.

But I read the map wrong. The path makes a loop. The marginal hiker should turn back half way and go back to the car the way she came.

I went on to complete the path. The way became difficult. I kept going. It became rugged and challenging. I kept going.

Two and a half hours into this hike, I can easily to the last climb, straight up.

No way.

You have to be kidding me.

I either have to climb a wall of rock, a cliff with metal groups for toes and hands, or I have to go back and retrace hours of rugged ground to find the easier path.

I watched. Others were doing it. Just keep your eyes focuses on the six inches in front of you. Just think about the hand grip and foothold that you need to move to next.

At one point, my feet were in the wrong place. I had my left where my right should be and my hand would have to reach too far up for easy hoisting of my body and my right foot would have to cross in front of my left without making my left toe slip off its toehold. That right foot would have to step higher than is reasonable to reorient my body to the wall of stone.

I wanted to quit.

The time for quitting was over. Going back was not an option.

My muscles were shaking. My mouth tasted fear.

And I pulled up as hard as I could while carefully slipping my right leg between my left leg and the wall of rock.

I pushed up with my wobbly leg muscles and prayed.

The prayer of the terrified.

Suddenly, my body was rightly oriented and I realized I had survived that.

Another difficult moment presented itself momentarily, but it passed as well.

Life and death, this journey to God, is all of these things.

I wonder about my ability to keep going when the path is straight up a spiritual rock wall.

But I will pray. I will not give ground. I will not turn back

With grace, I will follow in the handholds and footholds of those who have gone before us.

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