Every now and then you get a look at yourself and wonder why you never noticed a thing that’s kinda obvious. I thought I was afraid of heights. Nope. I ride in airplanes and I go up in tall structures. No problem. Just don’t ask me to walk out on a cliff or an observation deck of a tall building. It turns out that I am deathly afraid of edges. Perhaps some of you will understand. I can close my eyes and imagine myself on a rock overhang of the Grand Canyon and create chemical changes in my body. Fear. Take me to an edge of anything tall and some primal thing in my brain will begin to scream about how gravity becomes unpredictable and a 60 mph wind could come out of nowhere in this place. Irrational. Fear.
It’s like I heard a guy say one time “you can’t fall off the floor.” I’ll admit that he was slightly intoxicated, but truer words had never been spoken. Back here away from the edge I can tell myself comforting things like how walking out to the rim would be pointless. I could explain how the return-on-investment just doesn’t add up. I have 99% of my life to explore…why does that dangerous 1% matter? If only it wouldn’t call to me I might be safe and content.
For a Christian there are popular books, regular Sunday sermons and the odd thrill of transcendence at a sunrise. The adventuresome may even take weekend getaways that promise spiritual experiences and insights. These may be done in the 99% arena without that dreadful feeling of losing control or performing “without a net.” But at what cost do I play it safe?
There have been a few sacred adventures where I followed a trail of thought from one possibility to the next without looking down. Like moth to flame my goal seemed almost within reach when I found myself at the boundary of my understanding. As I searched the ground for the path, I saw that it ended in at a sharp precipice and left me exposed. At my feet was a chasm. What came next has made all the difference. I took a deep breath, reached one hand back for the anchor of saints gone on, and leaned out over the empty space and found…..an altar.