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.


  1. My tummy did flip flops just looking, Nice pics, though!

  2. Well, yes, we face fears--but I don't think I will suit up hitched to a zip line to see if I can trust something. OK?
    I am not wild about heights either--in fact, my toes curl as though they are what keeps me anchored to the earth!

  3. Not me...I would have passed out waiting in the harness..but I do think I can cope with what life throws at me given some time...well.. so far I have anyway..

  4. Beautiful pictures. The climbers that I have met talk about the importance to them of the "focus" --they concentrate on each individual movement and a lot of them are afraid of heights. It's the mental challenge and success that is important to them. I love watching it and photographing it but don't think I'm ready to strap on a harness and dangle from a rope.

  5. Wonderful always the meaning is so much deeper in your posts......

    I overcame my fear of heights three years ago.....I took a ride in a hot air balloon.....was I scared....yes terrified.......but It was a two hour flight and I did it......I now can do a lot more than I used to...........I am also a firm believer that when your time is is up......

  6. What a great metaphor Ruth. Indeed, it's hard sometimes to trust that if we jump, we'll be caught and everything will be OK.

  7. First your pictures are wonderful having a very sharp and bright atmosphere about them and I can almost feel the fall day. Fear; I have one of heights and watch in amazement at some of the challenges people must face and conquer. Unlike the lady in your photo I could never do that, but with feet on solid ground I can climb down a steep embankment of slidy rocks under my feet without a worry. My security is my feet on the ground. Your post was lovely and a very enjoyable read.

  8. Anonymous7:45 am GMT-4

    I'm not particularly fond of heights. I would pass on the "zip" line, bungy jumping, hot air ballon, I even have trouble climbing up a 5 step ladder without knots in my stomach. But as crazy as it seems, I love to fly in airplanes.
    When we were kids my dad used to take us to Elora on a Sunday afternoon after church. With 9 kids vacations never happened, so these trips to the swimming hole were highlights of our summers. Fond childhood memories for me. I visited Elora this summer with my relatives and hike the marked trails. The gorge is very beautiful and a treat to have so close to home, but I am thankful for the railing.

  9. Jean- Yes, My knees felt weak too as I watched.

    KGMom- No, I wouldn't advise this as a way to prove someone has faith ;-)!

    RW- I think the adrenaline rush would be a little too strong for me too. But this is a little better than bungee jumping I think.

    Beth- I thought about you and your family as I wrote this post. I was looking last night at the pictures of the teenager who is moving back.
    The "focus" idea adds to the metaphor.

    Cheryl- Good for you! I watched hot air balloon launch recently and wondered if I could do it. I think the descent and landing would be the scariest for me. It is exhilarating to successfully do something beyond our comfort level.

    Jayne- Small children have that trust, but we lose it somewhere along the way.

    Ann- Thank you... I climbed down into this gorge after I took this picture and the descent was harder than the climb back up for me as the ground was rough with loose stones. My knees still feel it!

    Cheryl D- What nice childhood memories you have of this place. I haven't been to Elora in years and thoroughly enjoyed it, both the gorge and the town. I too was glad of the railing.

  10. Great post Ruth! I shiver thinking about jumping off, but I'd probably do it. I'm always up for a challenge. Must be having grown up with nearly a dozen boys; one brother and the rest neighborhood boys. I've jumped off a house roof onto a pop up camper. Those were the days! LOL Oh and then there is Quinton Heights. I think I have pictures on my blog, I'll send you the link by email.

  11. I'm sure this is a beautiful place for a hike,but, jumping off of anything is not my cup of tea.I will have to exercise my faith in other ways.Thanks for sharing the photos .

  12. Julie- I checked out your link and that is quite a tobogganing hill. Hope you get a chance to do a zip line sometime. The cost was a mere $110. ;-)

    Ruth- Ha! No jumping for me either but we surely will have our own faith-stretching experiences.

  13. I'm sure more people are killed every year in motorcycle accidents than white water rafting or riding a zip line, but I try not to think about that when I take off on my bike.
    Like Cheryl says, when my time is up, it's up--no matter what I happen to be doing.

  14. Great photos, Ruth. Brave young woman to do something like that. I don't necessarily have fear of heights - well, after a certain distance I would. I remember when visiting the Grand Canyon many years ago and I stood WAAAYY back. But to put my faith in a zip line to take me across a chasm, no thanks. BTW, I like how you put your camera in your side bar. That was a good idea.


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