The wall

I don’t know why I did it.

One minute I had walked my son over to see if he was old enough to do it, the next thing I know, I’m climbing a wall – literally.

I’ve been meaning to write about this experience for months, but things kept popping up, school started, work stress, a house and yard to care for. You know the drill. But for weeks now, I keep coming back to that day and that decision – I don’t know why I did it. More to the point, I don’t know why I didn’t give up.

We were at the county fair, and right away my son spotted the rock climbing wall sponsored by the U.S. Army recruiting office. Of course, he wanted to try it and I was willing to let him have the adventure. When we stopped in to ask the eligibility requirements, it turned out he was too young. Slightly disappointed, we walked away and headed toward the carnival rides. I have to tell you, I still don’t know why I did it. All I know is that while watching him play on the carnival rides, I decided to climb that rock wall. Honestly, I’ve never wanted to climb anything before much less a giant rock wall! I calmly said to my mom and my son, “I’m going to do it.”

I didn’t feel fear. I didn’t feel nervous. If anything, I felt peacefully resolute. It was almost like I was watching someone else take this chance. I filled out the forms, met my instructor, listened to his instructions and started up the wall. Sometimes the climbing was easy. My foot found the exact grooves needed for that next step up. Other times, I paused, not knowing how I could go any further. I could have quit. At any time during the climb, I could have said, “I’ve had enough.”

I don’t know why I didn’t. I didn’t owe anyone this climb. I didn’t need this to feel alive. I had nothing to prove to anyone. So there I am getting farther and farther away from the ground and at times I was so stuck that I didn’t know how to go anywhere but down. And yet I didn’t. Instead, I found myself listening to my instructor. He told me exactly where to put my foot or my hands. Sometimes I heard his instructions and complied. Other times I thought he was downright crazy and it took a heartbeat or two before I did it. But something inside me chose to hear his voice and follow his guidance. It didn’t take long before I found myself at the top of the wall. It took even less time to rappel down it. When it was over, I found myself with a new interest, a sense of wonder at what I’d done and a parallel to life.

Our earthly journey is like that rock wall. Sometimes it’s easy. Other times it’s hard to know where to step next. There are moments when it takes all of your strength to pull yourself to the next level. Through it all, the only constant is the voice of the Instructor. Faithfully, He guides our steps so that we can reach our destination and then return us safely home.

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