Doors of Hope

March 10, 2016
The Ferry to Iona

Hi friends. While I’m off snuggling my new baby, I’ve dug into the archives for a few of my favourite posts to share again with you. You might have read them a long time ago, or they might be completely new to you. Either way, I hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane! 

This post is from just a year ago, a few months before I became pregnant again, when we were both unemployed and wondering what the future held. It’s so interesting to re-read it from such a different place, and yet still have many of the same questions, the same hopes.



I was six months pregnant, but somehow I managed to make it to the top. Not a mountain, hardly even a hill, Dùn Ì is the highest point on the small island of Iona and we’d decided to make the trek to its peak. As we hiked I gradually discarded most of the many layers of clothing I’d been wearing (Scotland in March is usually pretty cold). I glared at the nimble-footed sheep that trotted past me, making it look easy.

When we reached the top we sat with our backs against the cairn, the dark stone warmed by the spring sunshine. We caught our breath and surveyed the world around us. At our feet, we could still see the monastery that St. Columba founded centuries ago. To the north were the sparkling beaches where later we’d go searching for Iona greenstones and marble. And to the west, the vast swathe of ocean that would carry us all the way past Greenland.

A week earlier we’d heard that the company my husband worked for was closing his office. He was going to be unemployed by the time our unborn baby was two months old. And so we sat on Dùn Ì that day and stared out to sea, wondering what was before us.

Iona is a holy island, “a thin place where only tissue paper separates the material from the spiritual,” George Macleod once described it. As we sat there, I really wanted to have a moment of clarity, for God to reach through that thinnest of veils and hold out the answer to our future.

I stumbled my way back down that hill without any answers, and one year later we’re still searching.

It’s a kind of wilderness, this in-between time. We have little idea where we are headed. We keep discovering new tracks in the dust and follow them enthusiastically until they disappear again.

It could easily feel like I’m lost, but rather I have the feeling I am being wooed.

“Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
and bring her into the wilderness,
and speak tenderly to her.
And there I will give her her vineyards
and make the Valley of Trouble a door of hope.” –
Hosea 2

This season of questions and unemployment should, by all logic, be my “valley of trouble.” But I see it becoming a door of hope. Because since that afternoon when I stood on a sunny summit and asked, ”What next?” I have started to hear the whisper back, “What do you want next, beloved?”

I hear the Voice encouraging me to dream, and when I’ve not had the courage, it has whispered stories in my ear, stories of imagined futures and desires stirring, and I’ve felt my heart rousing as if it had been sleeping these past months.

Dreaming feels dangerous. Once I start to name my desires, there’s the very real possibility of disappointment. And yet when I do find the courage to stammer these dreams aloud, to my husband, my mentor, my best friend, it feels like holy ground.

Many days I impatiently demand from God that the way forward to be lit up with neon signs and clear road markings. I feel angry that I have to wait for Him. Until I realise maybe He is waiting for me.

Maybe God is waiting for me to start exploring, to dig into the things already laid down upon my heart and sift through them, inspect them and sit with them, like clues hidden inside me. Maybe if I can lay my desires out in front of me, they will become a map to hold, the Spirit leaning over my shoulder to point out the path emerging faintly on the page.

Frederick Buechner said, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” And so there is something incredibly important about not hurrying through this thin place, impatient to find any path out of here.

I’m allowing myself to be wooed, allowing the landscape around me to be transformed from trouble into hope as I rediscover who I was created to be and where that deep gladness is within me that I can offer the world.

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