We took The Ducklings hiking on Saturday. It was an intense hike for this old mother duck–about 2.5 miles up to an elevation of 1,600 feet, 2.5 miles back down to the starting point. Did I mention that the trailhead is almost assuredly at sea level? I ached and sweated and stumbled and panted my way over puddles, switchbacks, and even a rock slide. I’m sure that sounds quite doable for those of you who are younger and thinner and more active than I am. I questioned my sanity several times, but the fact that my little Lucy was managing to practically run up trail shamed me into continuing.
But the top . . . The top was worth the aches, the sweat, the shaking quadriceps and the tight calf muscles and the sore spot where my daypack rubbed on my shoulder:
We ate lunch at the top, walked around the summit, and soaked in the panorama. And while the hike down was hard on the toes, it was far easier on the morale and the heart and the attitude.
Tiger mentioned the hike yesterday morning. In his thoughtful, contemplative way, he mentioned that some of the other hikers at the summit made him very nervous. “Those people at the edge of the cliff weren’t very smart,” he said. “They kind of freaked me out. I wouldn’t get that close to the edge.”
Now, I know my Tiger. He doesn’t like heights–never has. Even riding on his dad’s shoulders when he was a toddler scared him. On our hike yesterday, he stayed well back from the edge of the cliff–an edge, I might add, that is completely unfenced.
But even my Tiger had to scramble up the rocks to reach the top. Even my Tiger had to admit that being on the same level as the birds of prey circling the river was worth the risk. “That view,” he said after a long, thoughtful pause. “That view was worth getting close to the edge.”
“Sometimes, you have to go someplace kind of dangerous to get the best views, don’t you?” I asked him. He agreed.
When I was panting and sweating and aching my way through switchbacks, I didn’t think about the view. When I was scrambling up the last pile of rocks, I didn’t care what I’d see at the top. I only wanted to sit–to rest–to return to my safe living room and my recliner and my knitting.
But that view . . .
The dangerous views are the best, aren’t they? Not the ones that will most assuredly do us harm, but the ones where we must take a reasonable, calculated risk in order to see something we can see no where else.
Raising children to be men and women who hunger and thirst for righteousness is dangerous. Pursuing art that others may not like or approve of is dangerous. Speaking out against injustice and immorality is dangerous. Sharing Christ is dangerous.
I wonder what switchbacks I’m struggling through at the moment. I wonder what rock slides I’m clambering over as I contemplate giving up and descending the mountain before I reach the top. I wonder what views I’m missing because I do not dare to take the reasonable, calculated risks.
I must remember that the view is worth it.
Till next we meet . . .