But that morning cloud had descended and we could hardly see the mountain never mind the summit, so my brother and I have postponed that little hike for another day DV.
We were so pleased when a friend suggested an alternative. Apparently this was one of only a few days every year when the tide was low enough for people to walk out the rocky causeway to Inishbofin, ‘the island of the white cow’. So we drove to Magheroarty Pier between Gortahork and Bloody Foreland and joined a couple of hundred others setting out along the two mile crescent beach seeking the path to the island.
It wasn’t hard to find. The waves were receding like watery curtains to either side revealing a stretch of stones leading to our goal. In a scene reminiscent of Biblical epics, people were pushing forward, waiting for the short window of opportunity when our crossing would be made possible.
Someone said the day before had been calm and people had passed over like Moses and the Israelites at the Red Sea ‘on dry ground’. Circumstances weren’t so favourable for us. While the Atlantic scenery was as spectacular as ever, the walk became actually quite arduous. In the end we had to wade a bit over slippery rocks and seaweed, but by that time we’d gone too far to turn back.
We got about two minutes on the island shore then had to return as the tide was changing rapidly. Waves tugged at our knees on the hurried scramble, as we tried with increasing anxiety not to lose our footing on the unseen, treacherous sea floor.
Obviously we made it (or I wouldn’t be writing this) but there were one or two dodgy moments and quips afterwards about ‘near-death experiences’!
All-in-all a grand experience though!
Some reading this may be thinking this was a group of elite ‘Iron Man’- type athletes who undertook this gruelling challenge, but hey, this is Ireland! Men, women and children of all ages were there enjoying the ‘craic’. Some wore wellingtons, others trainers; some had walking sticks, others brought their pets. People were taking ‘selfies’ to share on Facebook.
One of the lovely things about it was the good humour of it all and how complete strangers helped and encouraged each other, especially when the going got tough. Someone took pity on my brother (who they maybe mistook for a senior citizen) and held his arm to guide him home. I ended up holding hands with a delightful older lady after she took a tumble, though after a bit I wasn’t sure who was helping who!
So what’s the point of all this?
Well, lessons abound, take your pick!
For example God may provide a pathway for us but we’ve got to be willing to step forward in faith and take it.
Or God may show us the way but we should still expect a measure of short term challenge in this present, slippery life.
Or what about the joy and privilege of undertaking this ‘pilgrimage’ together, the ‘fellowship’ of supporting each other on the way?
But perhaps the most simple and telling one is that picture of a pathway that is revealed for such a short time. God’s grace in Christ is deep and wide but it is also time-limited. If you were thinking of coming over to His side, come now while you may, or you could end up stranded some place you don’t want to be.
The window of opportunity is brief but enough. Take it while you can!
As it says in the Book:
‘Seek the Lord while He may be found…’
(Isaiah 55 v 6)
‘Now is the time of God’s favour; now is the day of salvation.’
(2 Corinthians 6 v 2)