Friday, June 1, 2007

Ropes Revisited

Tink goes to check on her kids and I head down to the ropes course. I'm a little cocky-- I figure I conquered the high course at the Eagles Wings Breakthrough, this'll be a cake walk.

Thankfully no fall follows this pride. Just humble revelation.

The course is empty. The girl belaying me is a little slip of thing outweighed by her Kiwi accent. We chitchat--she lives on the north island close to where some friends of mine used to live.

Up I climb. The first challenge is a wobbly walkway of short boards unevenly spaced along cable. I look waaaaay down, and ask again, "are you SURE you're big enough to hold me?" She assures me she is. I gulp and consider stepping out.

Now, at Eagles Wings, there were kids on obstacles everywhere, kids facing fears far greater than mine. I could unstick myself simply by encouraging someone else making their way through the treetops. I also had a cheering committee overlooking my abject terror and rooting me on.

Here, I am alone. I pick my way across the catwalk. My hands grip the belaying rope, as if to say, we are responsible for creating civiliations, we're not leaving survival up to anything else. Their grip does no good, but somehow comforts.

The next challenge is a narrow log suspended up in the clouds. Again, no hand cables, no inference of separation from thin and hungry air. I cling to the telephone pole before stepping out.

Reason tries to pump me up: "you're athletic and strong and toughminded. You're ahead of the game. If this course weren't safe for woosy couch potatos their lawyers would take it down in a New York minute."

Reason is unconvincing.

For a long second, I actually consider climbing back down. Realizing this moment of weakness, I want to cry. Instead I make that imposible first step onto the log.

After a few steps (and fierce prayer!) I realize, this isn't deadly. I keep up a paraphrased patter as the comforting upright pole receeds into the distance: It's God who arms me with strength and makes my ways perfect, my steps hold to your path, my feet do not slip, You gives me hind's feet in high places.... Step, step, step. I even stretch my arms out to the sides at the Kiwi's urging.

Tink and the tribe mosey around the bend as I step back across for the drop off. The ropes course officially closes for the evening.

Earthbound again, I feel little elation. I need to think about this.

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