Don’t Look Down (Or Around, Or Up, Or Anywhere, Really)

Tomorrow during stations I’ll give my kids 15 minutes to write about the overnight field trip we enjoyed this week.  I thought I’d give it a try myself.  I have way more than 15 minutes worth of stuff to say, but I’m hitting “publish” at 9:40.  Go!

…and I’ve already wasted five of my 15 minutes looking for just the perfect way to start.  Of course.

So let’s just skip straight to the best part.  The Alpine Tower.  It’s this crazy cross between a climbing tower and an obstacle course.  I watched probably 20 kids go ahead of me, and a few determined ones made it to the top.  It was time to go to lunch, but one of the super-cool counselors said I could still climb.  I guess that’s one of the perks of being a teacher….like skipping ahead of students in the lunch line.

I climbed the first stair section with no problem, and then came to the point where I had watched more than one student lose their confidence.  This was going to be much harder than it looked from the ground.

Since I have only two more minutes until my self-inflicted deadline, I’ll spare you the details and get to the point.  It was hard.  I don’t usually get too scared on these types of things, but today I did.  My students would repeatedly give each other the routine advice, “Don’t look down,” but I decided that’s not enough.  It seemed to me that if I looked up or down or out or anywhere other than right in front of me, I started to doubt that I had it in me to reach the top.

And thanks to many, many years of debriefing training at camp, I couldn’t help but draw the parallel to the everyday.  Sometimes the task or path in front of you (or above, in this case) is way too overwhelming to see all at once.  And that’s why it’s so perfect that in those times, only tiny next steps get revealed, one at a time….

Put your right foot on that cable.

Spend this next 30 minutes reading a book to your kid.

Now reach for the rope ladder.

Write that e-mail you’ve been thinking about all day.

Sit down on the edge.

Don’t worry about that, and just go to bed.


So I made it to the top.  Myself and a rather spindly little girl in my class actually made it at the exact same moment.  We air high-fived each other on the platform, and felt oh-so-full of ourselves all the way to lunch.

To end, I must make one correction that I have figured out only now:  You have to look down.  You have to look down because the guy with the rope and the directions and the view of the whole big tower is down there.  You have to make eye contact and listen to hear that next tiny step.

I know I’m not ready for the whole big plan, but I’m feeling a renewed sense of need to look more often in the direction of the One who’s got the rope and the view.  Time to start making some eye contact and listening.

Oh, and an hour and 15 minutes later, I think I figured out that 15 minutes won’t be enough time for my students to write about our trip either.  It was that good.


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