To know wonder is to tangle with terror. I lived just such a moment when we we hiked behind Pulapanzak, a waterfall in Honduras. Understand that safety and often good sense do not abound in public parks in a third world country. No fences, boundaries or safety walls exist. A random “guide” ambled up to us on this day and asked if we wanted to hike behind the waterfall. Ignorantly, we followed the stranger toward a cliff.
My friend Val nearly fell to her death as we navigated the path down to the bottom of the Fall. In a motion undetectable to the human eye, the guide grabbed her placing her back on the narrow path. As we blindly moved toward this fixed hurricane, I lost grip on my son Matthew’s hand. The guide held onto me. I was unable to talk and insist that he help Matthew who was 11 instead of me. At one point, I could not breath. It was like having a fire hose stuck down your throat on full throttle. My Teva’s found one slick rock after another as we bouldered toward the monsoon. I lost sight of Matthew and only prayed that he was not being blasted down stream. The guide held an iron grip on my arm. I mustered up the courage to break free to turn back and at that exact moment the wall of water disappeared into a small cave. My lungs clamored for oxygen. My right eye was blurry and for a split second I thought I had lost my eye-ball. The deluge had blown one contact out of my eye. With my good eye, I focussed in on Matthew safe and smiling. Words cannot contain the elation I felt at the confines of that small cave.
A different person emerged from that waterfall. On the way out, we hiked downstream and jumped off some giant rocks into turbulent water. My soul opened to something bigger than me. I mean, I still struggle with control, but my vision is changing. I am beginning to see that my demand to “understand” is an impediment to embracing the mystery of Christ.
To wonder is to encounter majesty and terror in the same moment and to never get over it. Unless I acknowledge a God whose power blows away my elementary understanding, I will have no need to adhere to his commands. In the face of Sovereign Power, my puny facade of control evaporates like little droplets of water. Unraveled, we are pushed to admit that a larger story holds us. When our hearts are full of wonder and awe, all that we can do is lift our hands in surrender. And so begins the journey into the arms of our Loving Father.