Sometimes the Lord invites us to take a risk. Every Easter the brothers in England and Ireland get together for our annual retreat and some fraternal time. This year it was in the Lake District in Lancashire. It is an absolutely beautiful place with numerous trails along lakes and over craggy peaks. On the last day of our time there the weather began to shift. The clouds hung over the house foretelling rain. But there was still one more ridge to climb. My body had barely recovered from a previous days’ hike and my persistent head cold showed no sign of relenting. But there was still one more ridge to climb. In the spirit of fraternity and with a vague sense that this beautiful landscape would not disappoint, I got in the van.
We set off just before 1pm. Our route led up a winding narrow path through the mountains to a car park that seconded as a sheep pen. With a quick look at our map we began the ascent. The thought of a restful day in bed quickly lost its allure. Edifying conversation, epic landscape, and with a trail that seemed to pull us onward, the ominous clouds lost their teeth and the head cold seemed to give up on its grip. Usually on a long hike it’s the summit that makes it all worth it. This time the whole thing was worth it. I wouldn’t have traded it for anything. It was like a summary of our whole Easter Retreat and time together: “Do not let your own limitations and the temptations of the world limit your vision. Be willing to take the risk of moving by faith. See by faith and be moved by the promise of seeing a beautiful landscape rolled out before you.” I could have let my physical limitations and the signs of gloomy weather keep me at home that day, but to what end? In comparison to what I unexpectedly received for having stepped-out on a hunch, staying home would have been an extremely short-sighted and dull choice. Resting at home in the comfort of my room appeared in comparison to be an absolutely ridiculous option.
Brothers, the Lord is inviting us in our discernment to take a risk. Do not let the things of the world limit your vision to this life alone. The Lord wants you to see more. He wants you to decide according to deeper criteria. Our human limitations and the challenge of living in a world that sees only bad weather overhead are not meant to have the last word. Jesus’ Resurrection has opened up a new horizon for each of us to behold. He has freed us from the tyranny of our human frailty. I assure you brothers the risk of following the Lord and walking by faith and not merely by sight is a risk worth taking; the pay off is in the whole of the journey.
Happy Easter brothers!
You’re in my daily prayers,
Fr.Gabriel Joseph, CFR