Monday, October 20, 2008
Fear and Faith
The Grand River meanders through our city at a lazy pace. I have taken a two hour canoe trip along a stretch of it and encountered only a few areas of slightly fast flowing water. But 40 minutes upstream by car from our home, the river plunges through the Elora Gorge. Limestone cliffs 22 metres (70 feet) high tower above the river bed. The Canadian Falls at Niagara are about 55 metres for a height comparison.
I have never liked heights. I wouldn't look at pictures of waterfalls when I was younger and high flying rides do not amuse me at all. I have wanted to walk the trails at the Elora Gorge and visited on a beautiful afternoon this weekend. Over the years a number of people have fallen over the cliffs and a fence now runs about 3 or 4 metres from the edge for safety.
These men were standing on the unsafe side of the fence. One Axe Pursuits has set up a zip line across the gorge and I stopped to watch young adventurous people jump off the cliff and dangle over the river. Some came back on the high line and others were lowered into the river and climbed back up the long stone stairway.
One young woman waiting to be harnessed up was asked if she wanted to jump feet first or face first. The harness could be put on to provide either option. She answered,
"Well, I will never do this again, so I might as well go face first."
I had my camera focused on her as she prepared to jump and waited and waited. It must take time to gather courage for the leap. Off she went, flying face first into the air... and what a smile! She almost convinced me that this was a lot of fun.
This adventure was hardly risky with safety lines and harnesses and operators controlling all aspects of the jump. But leaping off cliffs goes against every human instinct and the natural fear that safeguards us from danger is hard to overcome.
Would I trust that zip line? I don't know.
All of us face fear in our lives, real or imagined. Conquering fear requires good support, just as these harnesses and ropes are designed to provide support.
Do I have support I can trust for what life may bring? I know I do, if I have the courage and faith to accept it.