I went rock climbing on Monday. It had been a while and I'm not very good, but I loved being in the October sunshine and I loved the smell of chalk on my hands and I loved waking up the next day with stiff forearms. I guess it's nice for my soul to scramble on a rock. Even so, there comes a point in every single climb when I think, "I HATE climbing! This is scary!!" And sometimes I give up. But I'm remembering that the vulnerability of being in that spot is also the best part of the climb, because when you keep going anyway and get to the top...it's like you're holding the world in your hands (or at least a forest). Overcoming is pretty freeing.
Mixed with the smell of chalk and sweat and rope is a slew of memories that I confront every time I climb. And they are filled with as much vulnerability as hanging at 30 feet in the air. They have to do with the boy who taught me how to rock climb, who later became my husband, and then later became a heartache we call divorce. Somehow that environment, more than any other, causes a visceral reaction that leaves a little pang inside, even though I generally feel very, very mended. In fact, most people in my current world don't even know about that part of my past. It rarely surfaces.
But on Monday it was there again...prompted by the sight of a cord that runs through the loop on my chalk bag (of all simple things). And it kind of made me want to give up, so to speak. I wanted to ignore that little nagging ache. Then I remembered how good the feeling is when you get to the other side of something hard...so I kept with it...and sat in my hurting heart. And I remembered how God's love has soothed all of the painful edges of that painful ending--and that even after years He is available at a moment's notice to offer peace when things like chalk bags make me think "This is scary!"
Now here I am on the other side...feeling very free and apologetic for another overused metaphor about rock climbing.
But in your face anyway, rock.