This past weekend, Joy and I went to Atlanta to spend some time with Stone and Jet. Before making a stop at the grocery store for dinner goodies, we went by Bass Pro Shop to see which of the four of us might be able to ring one of the bells atop one of the four different difficulty level climbs.
We took turns, one of us climbing at a time so that the three left on the ground could cheer and encourage. Jet was the first to make an ascent, trying the smallest and most simple of the challenges. He gave it several good tries, before he decided not to continue to pursue. He just couldn’t get over one of the ledges.
Joy was the next to make an attempt. This climb was much higher than Jet’s choice and rightly so. She is taller and stronger than Jet. But, like him, she met a point that she just couldn’t get past.
I was amazed as I watched one adult after another
stand on the ground
with their sedentary bodies
and their own personal lack of dare to attempt the wall themselves ….
while they yelled direction to their children …
gripping rock and knob dozens of feet above the parents’ heads.
The parents were guiding blindly …. having no idea what it felt like to
work muscles unaccustomed to be flexed
and stand in an awkward stance
trying to skim a slick surface
with out losing balance …
all while being watched by as few as three or four
or as many as twenty
complete strangers and family members
who were critiquing their agility, strength and technique.
I found it interesting to watch the interaction all around the base
and up the side
of that imitation rock, climbing wall.
Stone quizzed the guy working the wall on strategy and technique. He was quick to let the young man know that he was going for the top. He chose the tallest, most difficult climb. Testosterone prompts him to “go big or go home” … and he has every intention of doing his best, no matter what he attempts.
While he made it well over half way up the wall,
there was this point where the slick ledge with nothing to “grab,”
the far reach for the next knob,
and the exhaustion that your forearms begin to experience
all converge with a step that moves your center of gravity …
and there is no choice
but to repel down.
Stone gave it several good tries, but the same spot
was his downfall
on each attempt.
Getting PAST that ledge
Being the photographer, I went last. I didn’t want to be shaking while shooting everybody else, so I wanted to wait until I had had the chance to photograph everyone’s attempt with a steady grip.
Me? I bought two tries on the wall
and knew I should start out on the smallest, most simple of the four. If I could succeed, THEN I would try a more difficult climb.
I could feel that my past six to nine months of steady, consistent exercise was beneficial. My core body is fairly strong and my upper body strengthens every time I work out. Six months ago, I would have never attempted even the smallest climb, but Saturday, I felt brave.
….. though no amount of bravery or strength could prepare me for the thing that was my struggle.
What I found as I climbed was that I reached a point of “stuck” when my right leg ….
couldn’t accept the transfer of my body weight from my left leg
because it would have thrown my center of gravity off and moved me
which, of course, would have allowed me to fall to the ground
if I was on a REAL rock on a REAL climb in the wild blue yonder.
Here in the safety of the walls of the Bass Pro Shop,
I was harnessed with a counter weight that would have simply allowed me to
gently be lowered to the floor.
Either way, I was in a position
that transferring my weight
threw off my center of gravity
and I wouldn’t reach my goal
of ringing that bell at the top of the rock.
And so, I thought of the spiritual physical parallels
between the rock and The Rock,
between exercise and strength,
between transferring my weight and losing my center of gravity.
My God is my Rock, but hanging onto Him can be difficult. There are times when the cling is strenuous and I find my muscles shaky, but there is always the counter weight of the Holy Spirit, my Comforter, to soften the blow of the fall, if I become weak and fall. If I am in God’s Word, I am rightly, safely harnessed in for the descent. The more often I find myself in difficult situations that require work to hold on, the stronger I become. And sometimes …. what appears to be a step in the best, most natural direction throws off my center of gravity …. probably because my foot was improperly placed in the first place.
Stone and I are both determined to successfully climb that wall
and ring a bell.
We plan to continue to strengthen our upper bodies
and return later.
Another parallel reminder for me is that Stone is stronger than I am
both physically and spiritually …
and I am okay with that …
I embrace this knowledge
and find it comforting.
Praise be to God.