I have to be honest that the end of Much-Afraid’s journey didn’t have as much of an impact on me as the process. When I came towards the end of her story, I was excited for her and glad to see her restoration but it didn’t resonate with me. Perhaps it is because I’m not quite there in my journey yet.
Much-Afraid climbs again and as she is climbing up this huge mountain all of her enemies run past her. They are screaming for her to turn back because of a great storm that is coming. Much-Afraid and her companions stay put and find themselves in a cave. The storm rages on and while in the cave she goes through her bag of stones. She remembers each place and each part of her will that was sacrificed as she goes through these stones. Her bag of gifts. Each stone represents a promise of the Shepherd.
The storms stops and the three of them pick up their climb and they reach a chasm. Much-Afraid realizes they must go into it and at the point she realizes this is the end of her journey. Every step of the way she has given more and more of herself; more of her human will and desires. At each point she thought that it was enough. But it isn’t enough. The Shepherd didn’t want just part of her will, he wanted all of it. She knows now that this place will be the place of her last offering…and the end of Much-Afraid.
She sees an alter and she tries with all her might to wrestle her will out of her. She can’t do it. She pulls and pulls and while it aches and pains her, she hasn’t the strength. A priest comes forward and offers to do it for her. He binds her to the alter and he pulls it all out of her himself. She has come into total abandonment and a death to herself.
She wakes up and sees a stream in front of her. As she climbs into the stream she begins to see that her feet that were all cobbled are not straight. She washes her face and it becomes soft and beautiful.
Then the Shepherd appears and her gives her a new name. Grace and Glory.
Her companions are given new names also. Joy and Peace.
There is much more to the end of the story, but this is where my part ends. I’m still processing through what this means for me and my walk with the Great Shepherd. He has given me a new name and he has restored me. Yet I keep looking for other ways to make myself perfect. I keep trying to find my own healing stream. But like Much-Afraid trying to wrestle her will out of herself, it can’t be done. I keep trying to rename myself.
And that’s the whole point of this story. We can’t do it ourselves. We can keep on trying to make the journey fit the way we think it should go, but in the end it won’t get us anywhere.
Faith isn’t blind. Faith is opening our eyes and trusting the path in front of us…no matter if it leads us into the desert, into the valley or up into the greatest peaks.