Irrationally Safe

Originally uploaded by sir_raglan.
A few months after the fact, it seems there is an event from which I have much to learn; part of which I’ve already written about Here. Like some kind of debrief or therapy session, it’s like God’s sat me down and said, “Ok, go back to that day and start from the beginning. What happened? What did you see and hear?”

I recall coming down the Continental Divide trail into the Grouse Rincon saddle and seeing and hearing lightening ahead of us not 2 miles away. Noting the desperate situation we were in I started looking for the closest drop below tree line, into “protection;” even calculating how long it might take to run with packs on. In other words, I started to make a plan based on the landscape ahead of me; and that plan would add at least another 7 brutal miles to an already long day. I really wanted to keep hiking up and over the next two valleys to a place called North Fork, but that way was covered in rain and lightening and darkness, and it was 3-4 more miles of hiking above tree line.

So, I gathered the crew, told them what was happening and then simply said we were going to talk to God and find out what he wanted us to do. In a moment of silence, I “heard” very loudly this: Keep Going. I have no idea what the rest of my crew thought about my laughing out loud at this, and just turned and said, “Well, we are going to keep going and see what happens.” Against all logic and rational guiding protocols, we put our packs back on and kept hiking on the Divide trail.

We hiked for at least another 2 hours up and over two saddles without a drop of rain on us, without a strike of lightening near us – there were even patches of blue sky right over us, I shit you not. We eventually were worn out and sat down to eat lunch right on the trail… still above tree line, still surrounded by the storms. Done eating, we continued to hike up and over to our destination – a place I kept seeing on the horizon and hoping we would make even as I made note of various “escapes” to the left of us.

The irony is that I had it in my head that we would be safe in the trees, dropped into the valley. Better amongst a massive cluster of trees than exposed on the top of a mountain. But it wasn’t a day later that we were in those trees in the bottom of a valley when a bolt of lightening nearly hit us spot on.

So, I aside from being reminded that I tend to take enormous risks against all practical logic – what’s new, eh? – the only thing that stands out in this most current recollection is how different my ideas of “safe” are from those of the one who created me; how in actuality what I think is “safe” can become the very place I die; and where I think I might die, I can actually sit down and grab lunch with friends, have a good laugh and keep moving.

Two months later, I am compelled to ask a few questions: What’s this have to do with today, here and now? What are my ideas of “safe?” How do they differ from what God seems to want to give? Am I truly losing my mind, crazy?

Chesterton says, ”A man cut off by the sea may save his life if he will risk it on the precipice. He can only get away from death by continually stepping within an inch of it.”