In the eye of the needle


I am sitting on top of a rocky mountain, seething in safety.

Far below me the hawks circle between cliffs of rock and rubble. Farther below a river snakes through the craggy outcroppings that make up the Needles, the formidable pointed rocky mountains along the California-Arizona border.

Here I am at the top of a Needle, my heart about to burst with fear. Anger boils under hot sun.

My boyfriend calmly eats an MRE out of a foil pouch. He offers me some, but I cannot eat. How did I get here, scrabbling over rock and mound, pushing a normally sure-footed shepherd-lab mix up the steep mountainside, following the muscled back of the rock climber dude who looked so exciting when I was rifling the photos at the dating service?

Now I am trapped. I have made it up here, but all I can see is the steep ascent down. I think to myself: I’ll never make it. The dog won’t make it. We’ll slide. The dog will look to me for help. We’ll take each other down. Rock climber dude will be far out ahead, unaware, blissful in adventure.

In this moment of craven fear, I do something I have long forgotten. I cry out to heaven: God please! Find me a way out of here that is easy. I can’t go down what I just came up. I’ll fall! I’ll die!

And so, after I rested, I ventured off for a look, taking a goat trail across the top, sliding on gravel, seeking a way out on the other side.

Did God move Earth? For there it was, on the backside, a sloping gradual descent. Grassy even. The dog and I bounded free. The rock climber said: Ha! See, this wasn’t so bad.

One little scene from my life out on the highway seeking adventure, one snippet where God showed up to carry me safely out of harm’s way until I finally found my way back to Him.

I thought of that today, walking another dog along a country road, watching a chipmunk on a fence post, and a white-tailed deer bound off from a late morning visit to the cornfield. There was no hint of danger anywhere, just peace, quiet, and acres of rolling green, blue sky, and beauty.

It was as if God said: This is my trail. Keep following Me.

A gradual descent into loving arms. In this way, he drew me through the needle’s eye.


Ps. 57:2: I cry out to the Lord Most High, to God, who fulfills his purpose for me.


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