This week I did something hard, something that pushed me to my limits. I did not walk from one country to another over a tightrope, but it did involve roiling water, and an intense struggle to keep my balance. I went (commercial) fishing in a storm, with my husband and two youngest sons.
It was miserable. The seas were sloppy, rough. The web of the net got caught in the prop of the outboard twice; the nets were full of bull kelp, which necessitated a constant wrestling and cutting and dumping of them overboard as we struggled to keep our balance in a pitching skiff, with slimy, mucilaginous kelp underfoot. Micah, 9, was seasick most of the time. (Of course, my camera can only tape the calmer moments). Abraham (11) and I floundered in the heaving seas and strained to lift the sway buoys over the bow of the skiff. Duncan was fiercely alert to the weather and waves, urging us to get the job done. We almost couldn't. I marvel at my husband and older sons who do this every day, all day. I cannot.
The next day, gratefully on shore, I went on another hike. I found another eagle’s nest halfway down the island, on the back side. This one, too, below me, so I could closely watch the eaglet nested there.
Ugly-lovely, yes, like the two in the other nest. But I got an even greater treat. It was still windy, as rough as the night before. In that wind, the parents performed stunning acrobatics overhead, swooping and gyring on the currents then diving to the nest to feed their young one. I sat, face to the sky, eye to my lens, rapt. What does the eaglet see? In a few weeks, he will try his own wings.
Wallenda dreamed of walking across the Niagra since childhood. In the midst of fulfilling it, he prayed with every step taken. (I think I was praying, too, even watching the Youtube of it 2 days later.)What leads someone to do such a thing---to string a wire between two countries, to walk suspended in mist, between air and river?
Why does Abraham dream of running his own skiff someday, even after the storms? The eaglets, now three of them, if they dream, it is surely of flying. They won’t fly for weeks yet, but something will urge them to the edge. And it will be dangerous. Not all eaglets survive their first flight.
Our dreams are often beyond our limits. We are so small, our limitations—and our dreams---can kill us. So we ask for help. We take a step. We pray. One step. Wallenda, Lord, give me balance. Me, in the skiff trying to lift the sway over the bow. Please Lord give me strength. Abraham driving the skiff to the tender, Lord, help me do it right. The eaglets, waiting to grow and fly. Lord, give me feathers and skill.
These are the moments when we are our truest selves, when we’re on the line. Who are you, then? When suspended, weak, falling, on the way to the other side, Who are you praying to? Who are you asking for help? Who are you thanking? Is your God the God who can do all things?
"But ask the animals and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you .. . or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this?"