Thursday, November 3, 2011

dilemma; or, leap of faith

In the movie classic Indiana Jones and The Search for the Holy Grail there is a scene where Indiana Jones must take a  literal leap of faith. He has to step off a cliff and trust that he won't fall. Of course, it is Hollywood and Harrison Ford so everything turns out okay. There is a rock path that is the same color as the cliff face. It is in fact, not an empty chasm before him, but a narrow rock path that is just difficult to see. As Indiana Jones walks he throws sand on the path because he want to be sure that the path really is there. He does not want to have to trust that it will be there when he gets back, he just wants to know. Is that such a terrible thing? To know?

What comes first? The leap? or the faith? If you don't have faith you won't jump, if you don't jump there is no faith. Jones jumps because if he doesn't his dad will die. Perhaps faith works best when we are thinking of something else. When I was in high school, my church youth group took a trip to a local swimming hole called Hell's Gate (I know it's ironic, somebody call Alanis Morrissette). At one end of the pool of cold, green water there was a smallish cliff the older kids would climb up and jump off. Because I was a girl, and because I was young, I had never been expected to jump, but that day I had decided to.

I didn't really want to climb up the cliff, and I definitely knew I didn't want everyone looking at me while I stood at the edge. I was 14, and my body was curvier and bustier than I was comfortable with. The boys had suddenly developed a habit of staring at me. They would look at me, my body, and then look away. I finally understood what my books' had meant when they described a man as "leering."  But a boy had looked at me and his green eyes sparkled as he asked if I was coming, I forgot my awkwardness for a moment and suddenly I didn't want to stay down at the bottom alone.

There were about seven or eight of us, and I was the only girl. I was the last one up the cliff and the boys had been standing at the top looking down into the water for several minutes. They were teasing each other and taking their time, pretending to push each other, laughing. I did not wait; instinctively I knew if I thought about it I would not jump. I reached the top of the cliff, made eye contact with those green eyes one more time, walked to the edge, and I dove into the water in one single motion. Once I bobbed to the surface the boys lost little time falling in after me.

Does it count as a leap of faith if you only jump because you are afraid not too? Or, maybe it just doesn't matter as long as you are in the water?

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