I didn’t take time to think, just entered the front door and started up the 100+ metal stairs. Step by step I quickly moved around the spiraling staircase. People passed, but I kept going. If I stopped, who knew what would happen? I reached the door, opened it against the press of the wind, and walked out. Looking out over the Atlantic Ocean, I was at the top of the Tybee Island Light Station. Brilliant reflections of the sun shone off the water. The blue sky allowed a virtually unobstructed view.
Immediately I sensed I would fall. I wouldn’t be able to hold on. How could I be up this high? My knees buckled. To move around the walk I held on to the lighthouse, as far from the railing as possible. If I stepped over there I may fall off. Even now my heart sinks merely remembering it. Would the structure topple? My head knew this would not happen, but . . .
Once I made my way down the stairs and reached the ground, my muscles were shaking and it took awhile for my breath to reach a normal rate. What had just happened? For centuries this lighthouse has been a source of direction and safety for travelers up and down the Atlantic Coast as they entered the Savannah River. It provided guidance. It has stood strong. But for me, it became a center of fear.
This physical experience isn’t unlike that which I encounter on an almost weekly basis. I may not be climbing physical heights – but in my attempt to plan and get out in the world I hit this place of fear many times and I grasp back for a solid support instead of walking out towards the unknown.
I eagerly prepare to facilitate a discussion or give a talk with images of engaging the audience with questions and interaction. Then when I stand in front of the group I freeze and hold on to the solid structure of the presentation – not venturing toward messy interaction with the people in front of me.
Or, I think about getting out into the city more often. So I look for activities, plan, even RSVP to friends’ invitations. Then I wonder what will happen. I can’t spend the time. I must work. I’m tired. I come up with many excuses to remain close to the supports I know. All the while knowing there is something beyond that my even supports are pointing towards.
As I cling to a support, I don’t trust it’s purpose enough to let go. Instead I treat it more as a chain. This even happens as I cling to Jesus Christ – which we’re supposed to do, right? But we are to walk the path that he lights, not grasp the light source and hide our eyes.
This week I think I will venture a little further from the lighthouse and explore where the light is shining. Who’s with me? There’s a lot out there.