Steps of Hope 3

Steps of Hope 3

by Sr. Ese Idogen MMM        Angola/Nigeria           31.10.2022

Yes!! After three weeks, I had an opportunity to join in the celebration of the Eucharist and bring back consecrated host for the community. How could I miss this opportunity! Where? It was at a neighbouring village, she said.
Since it was past noon, it will take forever to get a commercial boat to take us there and our boat driver was not available, we resorted to using ‘Okada’’ (motorcycle). Unfortunately, we got only one Okada so we go on one. I didn’t mind sitting between the Motorcyclist and the sister, I felt like a hot sausage between the two of them. I didn’t care, I was going for Mass.

We started our journey, and it was a long road. I was not particularly comfortable on the motorcycle, but I was hopeful as I kept saying to myself ‘We will get there soon,’ but with every minute, it seemed it got farther.

The road was very sandy, the motorcycle was going up, down, up, down and before I knew it, I was on the ground, the motorcycle had fallen!
I quickly got up, picked the altar bread and as I was trying to shake off the sand from my cloth that has become so rumpled like a crumpled piece of paper. It was only then I realized that my beloved sister and the rider were struggling to lift the motorcycle off the ground. The sight was very amusing, but I dared not to laugh at that time.

We were set to continue our mission, but this time, my initial excitement was mixed with worries. Hope was becoming frail, “Are we ever going to reach our destination?” I looked at the man, he was sweating profusely. He seemed to me, he felt he had no choice but to carry the ‘Sisters’. I could hardy breathe, his sweat was dripping on me, with a strong stench of local gin! Wait a minute, could this man be driving under the influence? My mind began to wander, maybe that explains the continual swerving of the motorcycle. What could we possibly do now? We are too far away from home, and it will take grace to reach our destination. I was not sure if to mention it to the Sister or not. She would definitely freak. I whispered to the man to go slowly and I began to pray in hope that we will arrive.

We kept going, slowly, slowly, and slowly. it was a lonely road, all I could see were trees and later I began to see houses, little further, I started seeing piercing eyes behind curtains and finally when I saw children dancing in the street, I breathed a sigh of relief as I said to myself, “ we are almost there…”

Life can put us in difficult situations sometimes and the only thing we can do at the time is to hope. Sometimes I embark on a journey with great enthusiasm but half way through, especially when things are not going exactly as I have planned, I begin to feel hopeless.

Hope is me going through life with a positive disposition. Knowing that no matter what challenge life throws at me will pass. Learning to see each experience as an opportunity to grow and trusting that all manner of thing will be well as Jesus had told Julian of Norwich.

If I am to live a good and happy life, I must learn to live in the moment with hope, and trust that all of life, past, present and future is in good hands. I must remind myself that I am only a worker and not a master builder to borrow the words of Oscar Romero. Only the master builder has the whole picture, mine is to work and live daily and trust the plan of the master builder.

So, for those of us already taking our steps of hope, despite life uncertainties, Great! We must Keep walking. Those of us only beginning like myself, I hope this finds you well and I hope you have got your walking shoes ready because it is going to be a long walk but we can be sure of one thing “Jesus walks with us…” Henri Nouwen says “…and speaks to us on the road. When we listen carefully, we discover that we are already home while on the way.”

Just when I started feeling alive again, still riding on the motorcycle, I heard the man say in Nigerian pidgin language “Oya make una come down”, (it is time to get off my motorcycle) I replied with a quavering voice “you say make we come down? Why ? We don reach? ” (why are we getting down? We haven’t arrived) And then he added “Una go use leg waka the rest, I don reach my last bus stop”). “You have to walk further to your destination; I cannot go further.” He had an unusual smile on his face as if he was happy with the progress he had made so far. I looked at the long sandy road in front of us. “Okay…”, I managed to say. “…thank you”. I struggled to get down from the motorcycle and we literally began our steps of hope.

Did we eventually arrive? Yes, we did, but I am sure you will be amused when you find out how. That is definitely a story for another day!