Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Day at the Falls

Today was a different sort of day at Kazembe. We packed up all the volunteers (except David, who stayed behind sick) and the Morrow family and headed off for a day at the falls.

The Ntumbachushi Falls are not nearly as large or as grand as the Lumangwe Falls we visited earlier in the year, but I find them to be much more fun. After a half hour drive (again, much smoother and much more preferable to the three hours it takes to get to Lumangwe) and a short hike up, we found ourselves in a beautiful haven of rushing water and picturesque greenery. The falls themselves stretch on for miles, but we settled down on the banks of a small pool and leapt in. The water, as usual, is breathtakingly cold, and we enjoyed ourselves immensely as we clambered over rocks and scuttled around on bare feet. After a dip, we all scarfed down our lunch of peanut butter, crackers, cheese, popcorn, and ginger snap cookies before heading up to the path to smoother ground.

Here we laid down our towels on a plateau of flat stones with the water lapping at our toes. And we just lay there – reading, listening to music, letting the sum warm our cold bodies, and relaxing. Meg noted that it was the most relaxed she’d felt all year. Pushing my worries about sunburn to the back of my mind, I stretched out and closed my eyes, letting Jack Johnson’s voice soothe me almost into sleep. A song that I learned in my first year at ACU flitted into my mind out of nowhere. I sang it softly all the way back to the car.

Lay your burdens down,
Every care you carry
And come to the table of grace,
For there is mercy.

Come just as you are,
We are all unworthy
To enter the presence of God
For he is Holy.

Lift up your heart, lift up your hands,
Fall on your knees and pray;
For the King of Kings and the joy he brings is here
He is here
In this place.
We raise our voices, raise our song,
We offer Him our praise,
For the King of kings and the joy He brings
Is here, He is here in this place.

For a time, a short time in the middle of a busy, exhausting, wonderful summer, I listened to the words of the song and just rested, not thinking about anything at all except how good it felt to enjoy the beautiful creation around me and how wonderful it was to know that He was here in this place. It was true peace.

However, the day trip wasn’t all relaxing and humming and epiphanies. As always, I picked up a little life lesson along the way. The most exciting part of the trip (besides a quick foray into an African killer ants’ nest to retrieve my dropped phone) took place atop the waterfall. One must first fight the torrent of water pouring over the edge and somehow manage to find footholds to pull oneself up to the top before carefully navigating to the edge. The rocks are slippery and one false move could result in serious injury, all while picking off the leeches that invariably latch onto feet, legs, and, in Emily’s case, faces. 

Last year, it took me what felt like hours to muster up the courage to jump. My stomach flipped every time one of my friends leaped off the edge and into the chilly water below. Truly, the jump isn’t that dangerous. It’s really not very far at all. The Morrow kids make this jump all the time. I know I won’t get hurt.

But when you’re standing up there, on the edge of the precipice, ankle deep in the water that is in such a rush to pour over the shelf and is crash down beneath you, peering over the side, wondering if you can make it – it’s a bit intimidating. There is an outcrop of rock immediately beneath the jumping off point, and when you’re standing at the top it looks like you’ll surely crash into it instead of the water beyond.

I find that my life often feels like I’m standing at the top of the waterfall. And sometimes, it is terrifying. Sometimes it looks like I might hit rocks, and I know it will hurt. Sometimes I’m afraid that I will go under, and won’t come back up. Sometimes I’m afraid that the water will be too cold. Sometimes I’m afraid that I will flounder and fall and fail, and there will be no one there to save me. Sometimes I’m afraid that it isn’t worth it.

Or maybe – just maybe – it will be fine. Maybe I’ll land safely, missing the rocks, and even if I sink deep underwater, I might just be able to resurface. Maybe the water will feel great. And maybe there will always be friends nearby to rescue me if I need help.

Maybe it will be exciting and awesome.

Maybe it’s worth it.

But I know I’ll never know until I jump.

So I’m going to count to three, take a deep breath, and jump. I’d advise you to do the same. Don’t think about how bad it would be if everything goes wrong; lay your burdens down, every care you carry, and jump.

Just jump.

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