On our initial phone call, Joel supplied behind-the-scenes details of his recent adventure on the Inca Trail ascending Machu Picchu. The trip included rafting, paragliding, and camping. As the sun dipped below the horizon, the group gathered around the fire for a time of spiritual reflection.
While intrigued by the opportunity, I couldn’t keep the reticence out of my voice as we chatted.
“What would your dream expedition look like?” he asked.
Having grown up in Colorado, I was well versed in sleeping in tents and river bathing, but my dream expedition would be, well, more posh. Each day’s hike would be challenging but not to the point of exhaustion. We’d carry daypacks chock-full of water, sandwiches, and a blend of sweet-and-salty snacks.
Someone else would take care of our luggage. At night we’d skip sleeping bags and nestle into a cozy bed and breakfast. The majority of meals would come from a menu, and most important, we’d enjoy lots of chocolate and other treats.
“Yeah,” he said, drinking in all I had shared. “I’m not sure about the treats or chocolate, but I think the place you want to go is the Highlands of Scotland.”
I didn’t know much about the Scottish Highlands and had never dreamed of leading a spiritual pilgrimage overseas, but as Joel described the expedition along the historic route, my imagination sparkled at the possibility.
Further details poured in over the following weeks. I found myself saying yes to Joel without any tangible idea of what I was saying yes to. And then we were there, standing in the Edinburgh airport introducing ourselves to one another – seven women along with two men who served as our support team. Our task: hike 80
Kilometers (50 miles) of the Highland Way, which ended in Fort William at the foot of Great Britain’s tallest mountain, Ben Nevis.
The drive to our first night’s lodging, located near the trailhead, hinted at the diverse beauty we’d encounter. Stout forests. Quiet glens. Austere rock summits. Sapphire lakes too numerous to count. The inn where we stayed that night brought comfort to our hungry stomachs and travel-weary bodies.
When Joel handed me the key to my room, I had no idea what to expect but was delighted to discover a small room, immaculate, with a single twin-sized bed and private bathroom.
I rested my luggage on the grey floor and tried to factor in the time change as I calculated how long until dinner. Forty-five minutes - just enough time to prepare for the evening devotion that followed the meal.
One last time, I prayerfully considered what to share and reflected on the work God had been doing in my life.
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