Living (Fiction)

8-31 Leap

Two months ago, I had an epiphany of sorts… a life-changing moment that happened in the midst of the ordinary.  In the timeline of our lives, it isn’t often we can identify those moments at the exact time we breathe them, but here’s the story of my moment.

I sat on the sun-baked rock clothed in Capri pants and a t-shirt.  I didn’t hike to the waterfall to jump in; I came to clear my mind and watch the crazy people leap into the murky unknown.  And the pool of water had turned an icky shade of brown after the last monsoon storm.  My mind never slowed as it ran through all the things that could go wrong.  You could slip off Lloyd’s Log and bust your head open.  I mean, the log was probably named for Lloyd after he did just that.  Lloyd’s body could have still been there for all I knew.  The old log could break and impale you as you plummet into the water.  You could over or under-shoot the leap and break your legs on rocks jutting out that are obscured by the muddy brown pool.  You could belly flop and drown after the wind is knocked from your lungs.  The list went on.

I held my breath every time a child leaped from the carved log and exhaled each time their head bobbed back to the surface.  In between, I’d shake my head and wonder why the parents didn’t protect their children.  If I had a child, I would never let them do something so dangerous.  I scanned the dozens of people around me and tried to match the offspring.  I grew bored with the game when the string of unmatched jumpers grew too long for me to manage.

My attention turned to the children and the way they would just jump, arms spread wide, legs tucked, into the unknown.  They had no fear.  I wondered what it was like to not be restrained by the shackles of consequences.  How did it feel to experience flight, even for just a few seconds before plunging into the water?  I puzzled over how an anyone could jump without knowing for certain it was safe.  But they did.  Some hesitated, but eventually they leaped.  I imagined their eyes squinted closed, but still, they jumped.

I looked down at my faded brown pants and the realization came to me:  at least they came prepared to let go.  In that moment, I saw my street clothes as an outward representation of my abundant supply of fears.  A more alarming thought surfaced:  I breathed, but I didn’t live.  

On impulse, I unlaced my shoes and set them beside me.  I peeled the damp socks from my pale, hardly-seen-sunshine feet.  I stood and took a deep breath before walking toward the water.  I gasped as the shock of cool water met my hot skin.  Thigh-deep in the unknown, I considered turning back.  But I’d gone this far.  I continued until my feet no longer touched the bottom, then I swam toward Lloyd’s log.  I shimmied up the submerged log and crawled up the crudely-carved stairs.  With shaky legs, I stood on the last step.  Things that could go wrong began to cloud my mind, but I jumped before they could paralyze me.

I didn’t hit my head on the log.  The log didn’t crack and I didn’t break any bones.  Lloyd’s corpse didn’t reach up and pull me under.  I wasn’t afflicted with flesh-eating bacteria.  The silt washed off my skin in a warm shower.

The thing is, my outward appearance is no different than it was before, but the moment I leaped from Lloyd’s Log with my arms stretched like a bird in flight, I lived.

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This story is fiction but was inspired by some real thoughts and introspection that I’ve had.  At church on Sunday, they talked of faith.  Faith is often believing in something we cannot see or prove, and trusting that the outcome will be for our good.  Fear is the exact opposite of faith. When there is fear, faith is a risk.  Like the character in this story, I tend to see all the harmful/dangerous things that could come from any given situation.  I recognize that I need to lean on my faith more.

Still, I did not leap into the nasty murky water from a carved log. There are certain things I couldn’t work past… like, where do all these beer-drinking people go to the bathroom?  Oh, I knew….

Baby steps 🙂

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Beyond The Fog

We don't always see where we're going, but we have faith we'll get there
We don’t always see where we’re going, but we have faith we’ll get there

Faith isn’t walking into a fire, certain you won’t get burned.  Faith isn’t blind, either, but it does mean facing the unseen and the unknown with the conviction that we are not alone and the experience will somehow sculpt us into a new version of ourselves.

Faith is easy to proclaim, but when it comes down to it, it can be really hard to live by.  It’s kind of like putting on a blindfold and running down a busy street (if the street is in Phoenix, this would be insane.)  In our minds, we recognize the dangers- we could stumble into a light pole, wander into traffic, get hit by a bus, fall into a ditch… the list goes on.  Would you have enough faith to do this?

When adversity hits, my tendency is to obsess over the facts, mentally travel the possible actions and their consequences, and then I make decisions accordingly.  I rush in and “do” something.

To me, faith is the ultimate trust.  Kind of like running down a busy street blindfolded.  Faith is relying on something other than my own abilities.  Faith is believing that there is hope even when all the evidence I see says otherwise.

What is faith to you?

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If you’re looking for fiction, please stop by next week.  I plan to have a response to another one of Emilio Pasquale’s amazing photos.  Hope you’ll check it out 🙂

Thin Ice

02-26 Icy Lake

From the middle of the frozen lake, you motion for me to join you.

I shake my head, certain you’re half insane.

You jump up and down.  “See?  It’s safe!”

I close my eyes and listen for cracking ice.  Safety is relative.  I keep my feet on solid ground and camouflage emotions well.  It’s safer this way.

I feel your hand through my coat sleeve and open my eyes.

“Don’t be scared.”

I succumb to persuasion with slippery uncertainty.  Years ago, trust and I parted ways; you are my only exception.

I believe you won’t leave me on thin ice.

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This is my take on the 100-Word Challenge hosted by Lance at My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog.  This week’s song is “The Only Exception” by Paramore.

Anyone can join in, so check out his blog and add a 100-Word piece of your own!

In Faith, I Trust

I’ve mentioned before that my personal commitment to writing a spiritually-related Sunday blog post is great motivation for me to stop and acknowledge spirituality as a part of my life.

Spirituality is the one thing I can let slide without immediate consequences.  If I don’t help the kids with homework, they don’t learn; if I don’t clean the floors, the playground sand takes over; if I don’t write, I go crazy…and that’s not good for anyone.  And if I don’t tap into my spiritual self?  I function just fine, until I realize I’m lost.

Lacking inspiration, I read through several entries in my Life’s Simple Guide to God book.  In the past, I have read single entries that spoke to me.  This week, several entries seemed like they were written for me.

  • I read about how our burdens become lighter when we turn them over to God.  “If you’re carrying too many burdens – even if they seem to be good and noble – lighten your load.”
  •  Another entry reminded of the importance of fully trusting God.  “When your heart is open, your life is open for a miracle.”
  • Finally, I read an inspirational piece urging the replacement of fear with faith.  I like the quote they included, by Frederick W. Cropp – “There is much in the world to make us afraid.  There is much more in our faith to make us unafraid.”

Earlier this week, I took my older son to a Cub Scout orientation meeting because he’s decided he wants to join.  As I signed him up, the den leader explained how 5 new boys were signing up and they would likely need to start a new den.  I thought, ‘Okay, fine.’ But when he didn’t break eye contact, and continued with, “We need parent volunteers,” I squirmed a bit.

“I can bake cookies or something.”  I hoped this would appease him.

Nope.  I heard the Jaws music in the back of my mind.  I felt trapped.

“We need den leaders,” he said.

“I’m not the leadership type.”

“Neither am I,” the man responded.  “At our next meeting, I’ll make a hard press for volunteers to step up.”

I thought that was a hard press.

I can’t come up with a reason why I’m not the leadership type, other than the fact I don’t like it.  I’ve managed people, but it’s easier not to.

I can, however, think of other excuses reasons not to volunteer.  (1) I don’t have time, (2) I don’t know how to interact with a group of five ten-year-olds, (3) I have zero knowledge of Cub Scout activities (4) I’m afraid.

There it is.  The thought of leading a group of kids in anything makes me break out into a cold sweat.  Quite a feat considering we’ve had record high heat for several weeks now.

So, I turn this burden over to God.  I open my heart and trust him to guide my decision of whether to lead or not to lead.  If this challenge is necessary for my growth, then I will accept it.  If my load is to be lightened by passing up this request, then that’s how should be.  As long as fear isn’t the deciding factor, then I will know faith prevailed.

Is it wrong that I secretly hope that someone else steps up first?

How do you work through dilemmas?  Do you follow your head, your heart or both?  How does faith factor in?  When do you find peace with your choices?