I’ve taken a few risks in life, occasionally scrambling my way over river boulders strewn along the Cumberland. I climbed up underneath the falls there once with a friend of mine, stood up and felt the rocks shaking beneath my feet. In the midst of the spray and pounding, we felt the shuddering of the stone shelf overhead and saw water dripping through seams that will one day give way as the falls continues backing its way upstream. I’ve been snorkeling and scuba diving in the waters of Hawaii, even after having seen the dark shape of a shark cruising the area. I’ve brace-climbed up through a rock crevice and have also pulled myself slowly up over the face of a bluff that was definitely too smooth and steep for someone with no more skill than I had.
Randa and I enjoyed parasailing over the water at South Padre Island, catching a view from a few hundred feet above the coast and coming back down slowly onto the back of a boat. I ride a motorcycle from time to time, never going very fast but also knowing that thirty-five can kill you. So can falling in a bathtub.
I haven’t tried bungee jumping or sky diving yet and may very well leave this world without having tried either. Don Riley and I did climb the water tower at Sedalia, Kentucky, one evening and managed to escape unharmed and un-ticketed. I do not count myself a thrill seeker but I do enjoy a smidgen of a challenge now and then.
As I recount the brief and unimpressive list of my exploits, I know that, by far, the greatest risks I have ever taken have been in loving others. Whether friends or family, neighbors or children, there is always risk in caring and growing close. We ought not, though, let the possibilities of rejection, hurt and disappointment keep us from loving, from caring or from growing close.
We ought, I think, embrace the risk of loving rather than choosing the safe loneliness of insulation. It is obvious that he who made us took that risk.