“Hold this bar and step out onto the platform” the skydiving coach yells his instructions over the scream of the plane’s engines and the whipping wind. I am basically brain-dead – terror and adrenaline in full control. Other parachuters stare at me also mute with terror, including my friend, Gina. I know what she’s thinking. What possessed us to do this? What were we thinking??
Since I am brain-dead, the instructor forces my hands to the bar below the wing. I have the sense to grab on. Then to my horror, he gives me a nudge.
This is a business after all.
The wind sweeps my feet off the platform so that my body is airborne, parallel to the plane, underneath its wing, literally flapping. I clutch the bar for dear life.
In fact I decide at that moment I will NEVER let go of this very bar. They can just land the plane with me underneath. There is NO way I will let go.
That’s when the exasperated instructor forces my fingers one at time from the bar. There’s no more nudging. He hurdles me into the waiting wind and a violent drop toward the quilted farmland of central Illinois.
The static cord attached to my parachute immediately engages and a parachute billows into being.
Then quiet. My body sways gently as I befriend the wind which had treated me so cruelly seconds before. My brain reappears.
The image of me clinging to the bar of that plane has become my life’s metaphor. I am a clinger. I don’t Let-Go well. Take parenting. It crushed me to see my son and daughter leave the nest. To this day, if Alex returns home for a night, it’s all I can do not to cradle her head, hold her hand, and basically gush baby-talk to this now 27-year-old business woman who is not fond of physical touch from her mom.
I cling to memories, holidays, vacations, routines, even ends of books where I have to say good-bye to characters I’ve grown to love.
But I do have a choice. I can cling to my proverbial bar trying to pin down that which is transitory. Or, I can compel that brain of mine to cling to the eternal, to that which satisfies the soul.
I googled the word “clinging” in the Bible and here are some verses that popped up. They seem command-like, as if God knows my tendency to wallow in temporal clinginess.
Deuteronomy 10:20 “You shall fear the LORD your God; you shall serve Him and cling to Him, and you shall swear by His name.
Joshua 23:8 “But you are to cling to the LORD your God, as you have done to this day.
Psalm 63:8 My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.
So, may I cling to the hand of God and know that I am held fast in return.