lessons from Much-Afraid {the aerial chairs}


There is a small part of Much-Afraid’s journey that after I read Hannah Hurnard’s journal I was shocked that 1. I seemed to just brush through it and 2. that she didn’t write more about it.

After the mist clears the Shepherd leads Much-Afraid into the Valley of Loss. Again, he has brought her through and then away from the mountains. It seems beyond heartbreaking to her as she walks down into a valley to give up all that she had gained from climbing the precipice. Yet again, she makes it through the valley only by giving up another part of her human desire and will only to be led to another precipice. This one seems even more impossible to climb than the first one. But before she loses heart the Shepherd shows her some aerial chairs that they can sit in and ride to the top. The chairs lead her to the top of the waterfall and to the beginning of the end of her journey.

This whole section of the book is only a few pages. But in Hannah’s journal she writes for pages and pages about her experience with the aerial chairs where she is staying in Switzerland. They are called the Sesselbahn and they lead riders up and over this great chasm to this chateau at the top. I tried to look up some pictures of the original Sesslbahn in Switzerland from the 1970’s when she was there, but I couldn’t really find any. Her description was so fascinating to me.

There they were -those tiny chairs with no sides or backs – only a couple of bars. The cable by whose power they traveled overhead and at a great distance, was quite invisible. Underneath there was nothing but the abyss and no earthly ground of support. All one saw was two moving chairs, apparently hanging in the air. But they were supported from above!… One had to be willing to trust the invisible power, sit down on a chair and abandon oneself completely.

She doesn’t travel on these chairs the first time she sees them but has arranged a time to go up to this chateau with companions she was staying with. Only the day comes and she misses the group. She arrives at the station only to see that they have gone on without her. She must travel alone or not go at all. Then right when she gets the nerve to go, the operator informs her that the chairs are having maintenance issues. She can go up as they bring down the last group and then wait to come back down after the cable had been fixed. This was her last chance to go. If she didn’t go that day then she would miss the chance. So she goes on alone. No one to talk to her, reassure her or hold her hand. And for fifteen minutes she was suspended in air up to the heights. There was nothing she could do but enjoy it and revel in the creation, for where could she go if she panicked? She arrives at the top and she knows that the Lord brought her through in order to speak clearly to her a message. Had she not faced her fears and gone on as the Spirit was urging her she might have missed it.

So many times in my life I have let fear run it’s course. Instead of listening to that urging of the Spirit I have listened to fear. I have let anxiety and worry and control take over. How many times have I missed a calling because I have ignored where the Lord was urging me to go?

And, oh the times when I have gone or have done what He has called me to do despite the fear. When I have gotten on a airplane by myself and traveled miles into the mountains with 500 women I don’t know? What amazing things did He do then! When I continue to answer the call to stay home. When I continue to write in this space…

Had Much-Afraid not ridden to the heights with the Shepherd she would have missed her anointing and the beginning of her transformation. May I not ignore the places the Lord is calling me to despite the heights for the heights that He leads us too are beyond our imagining.


giggles on an April Fool’s morning
“indeeds” on an Easter day
egg hunts through a lens with memories of years past
a week ahead with time to give
a new month
mornings without tears
prayer cards
lessons to be learned
mist in the morning that gives way to sunlight and clearing
anxiety washing away into excitement

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