Facing Danger

This morning a 55-year-old woman who was hiking with her husband and three children fell to her death from the Angels Landing trail at Zion National Park.

Our hearts go out to the family. This is a challenging trail, one I have done twice with my children.

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Angels Landing Trail ©2008 G Goldsmith

In about twenty sections the trail narrows to 12-24 inches wide with 1,000 foot cliffs on one or both sides. Although the trail has chains embedded in the rock in a few places, it takes a lot of concentration and stamina. It’s easy to get vertigo. There have been several deaths there in the past few years.

The first time I saw this part of the trail, I said, “I’ve just sentenced my kids to death.” My daughter was about 50 feet ahead of me. She started up the side of the cliff before I could stop her. My 13-year-old son said, “We’ve already hiked too far to turn back now. We would just have to come back next year and finish it.”

With such logic and courage coming from a boy on the verge of manhood, what could a mother say but yes?

The human soul wants to face danger and take risks.

There is a need to conquer nature and to challenge one’s self and to put a stranglehold on fear. There is a need to rise to the occasion, to look danger in the eye and take it on.

We came down from that hike with a mix of humility, gratitude, and triumph. Angels Landing was a “rite of passage,” a turning point for us all.

This is a metaphor for life. Each day we are faced with dangers and given the opportunity to continue or turn back. I find courage in knowing that God is there and though my body and mind may fail the task, ultimately I am safe in his loving arms. Our souls —that part of us that makes us who we are — if entrusted to his tender care, cannot ultimately fail as long as we have proceeded with trust and faithfulness.

What dangers have you faced with fear, yet conquered?

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