I wait for the Northern Cardinals to leave. I lean in, snap the photograph, and then get out of there before I’m pecked to death or beaten with a mother bird’s wings.
|Northern Cardinals Growing in the Nest
I don’t even check the photos until I’m safe inside.
|Sleeping Northern Cardinals
It’s the same caution I take when I photograph a snake or a snapping turtle. The best photographs involve an element of danger.
Living with flair sometimes includes danger. We take risks; we move out of comfort zones; we endure the possibility of harm. Why? Because there’s beauty and joy right on the other side. I wonder, too, if moving deeper into a life of faith requires confronting danger–seen and unseen–because that’s the only way to have a clear picture of the power and victory of knowing God. That’s the only way to grow faith.
If I only move ahead in my life into safe and obvious directions, maybe I need to think more about choosing avenues that call for the kind of faith that I want to have.
So I face the danger, and I move out in faith. There’s a beautiful picture waiting.
Journal: Do I need to move ahead despite danger and uncertainty?
Just now, we return from attending our first college gymnastics meet. At the uneven parallel bars, the gymnasts perform extraordinary movements that, when seen live and up close, actually terrify me. I squeeze the arm of the neighbor sitting next to me with every rotation and every dismount. I’m certain these gymnasts will crash-land into the floor.
As I watch, I notice the coach (suit and tie, arms crossed firmly) at the sidelines. As soon as one of his gymnasts begins a difficult and dangerous sequence, the coach plants himself directly under his gymnast, holds both hands out as if to catch her, and waits for her to complete her performance. And how that coach cheers!
Within one routine, he darts in and out from underneath the bars many times, ready to assist and catch in the exact moment of possible danger or difficulty.
What I would risk if I knew I wouldn’t fall! What things might I attempt if I knew someone stood beneath me, arms ready to catch or cheer?
This uneven life, running parallel to spiritual realities, offers chances I cannot possibly attempt (out of fear, out of danger). But with One beneath me? I swing out into new directions, and I visualize the firm stance and wide arms of a God who will not let me fall.
Journal: What would I try if I knew I’d not fall?
The driveway and sidewalks–every path we try–stretches out black and shiny, smooth as glass, and treacherous. Ten of us set out for school, and by the time we reach the corner, we’ve fallen down six times (some of us twice).
The danger is real, and I’m nervous.
“Hold on to me!” I cry to the little ones. We find another mitten to grab or another arm to link through, and we suddenly stabilize. When one starts to slide and fall, the others catch him, find a new balance, and press on.
Instead of falling on our backs, our sliding on ice resembles smooth acrobatics: our legs shoot out from under us, but then someone has our back and we bend forward and backward. Arms flail and clutch, yet we do not fall.
Every child laughs. Even I can’t help but enjoy this treachery. It’s now an adventure, a pleasure.
I think about the strength in numbers. I think about finding others to balance us as we flail and clutch the air. Holding hands and shoulders, we approach the crossing guard who warns us of an upcoming stretch of ice to avoid. We walk a wide circle around it, arm in arm.
Safe at school, I recall what it takes to get here. The danger was real, but we overcame together. Nobody can make it alone.
Journal: With whom do I lock arms on my journey? What dangers am I facing that friends can help me battle?