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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

"Don't slip!"

"Anything I've ever done that ultimately was worthwhile... initially 
scared me to death."
--Betty Bender

I'm spending a few days with some colleagues on a "pastor theologian" retreat in a breathtakingly beautiful setting on a hillside overlooking Estes Park, CO below with Long's Peak towering majestically above.

Our mornings have been spent hiking the trails of the Rocky Mountain National Park.  Afternoons have been filled with lively discussion of how we understand and experience God through Divine Names and good and evil.  In the evening we have sat around a fire beneath a night sky so clear and close it seems you can touch it while banjo music, singing and laughter caress our souls.

We are hiking some of the more popular trails in the park and so the trail head is rather crowed with people of all ages, hiking abilities, and intentions.   However, it's not long before the crowds are dispersed throughout the numerous trails that branch out from that single path.  Even still we encounter many people going and coming and in doing so hear numerous snippets of conversation.

Two such snippets caught my attention yesterday.  The first was a father with two small children as they took the alternate path across a small stream where  stones were spaced just right for walking or hopping.  The children were giggling, "We're going the different way!" as they gleefully hopped on the first stone.  The father said, "Don't slip!"  The first child immediately froze on the second stone and whined, "I'm scared."

The second snippet came later in the day as we descended.  While taking a water break we witnesses a young woman trip and stumble to her knees.  We and several other people rushed to help her up - assistance she quickly rebuffed as she popped up and brushed off a skinned knee.  Just a few minutes later the same young woman passed us on the trail and I overheard her say to trail mates, "I'm trying as hard as I can to not fall."

This all makes me wonder about how early in life we learn risk aversion and how the very things we fear often become self-fulfilling prophecy.  

So, what are your aversions and fears, small and large?  How many of them have come true?  What would happen if you let them go and hopped to the next stone or stopped trying to not fall?

You might get your feet wet or have to brush off a skinned knee - but maybe that was going to happen anyway.

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