October 20, 2010

On rocks and rills

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.


  1. Heather, thank you for sharing such a personal experience. We can all relate to that experience - the big push to overcome the most difficult things in our lives, to be truly vulnerable when there's a risk. So tempting to turn back, and I think I do more times than not. Thank you, friend.

  2. H,
    Thanks for sharing. You reminded me of some things. I too, last night, was sitting wanting to give up over memories of a rejection. But I prayed and let it go, at least for last night. Part of the pain was because I felt weak and stupid. Why does this still hurt? Why was I dumb enough to get rejected in the first place? Anyway won't go on. Because as you said, I have learned to feel the pain, not ignore it, but then let it go. Still, this morning I was a bit perturbed that I can still get upset by it. After reading your words I had a shift. Each time it hurts, it is not another instance of reminding me I failed. It is another opportunity to apply the Atonement. It will continue to hurt and I will continue to be blessed by turning to him, until the day when I go home and he really does take it all away. But maybe that will only be because I will have spent this earth life turning again and again.
    Miss you!

  3. "... sat in my hurting heart," is such a good way to describe that feeling. So much of life we are too scared to do that and we get the results that come from covering pain instead of dealing with it. When we know we have Christ it is such a different story.

  4. I have such a love-hate relationship with "things" that bring back memories or feelings like that. Most of the time it is nice just to see how far I've come and other times I feel a little bit discouraged just because I felt anything. Seems like your experience was more of the former and I'm glad of that.

  5. Miss you too, Carrie. Love all of your comments. And yes, Elle...definitely the former.