As much as we might like our inner growth, or the growth of our relationships, to be a safe, step-by-step progression, the fact is that sometimes we have to take unprecedented risks without a sure knowledge that we can survive with our sense of self intact.
There’s a good reason for that; sometimes real change requires letting go of an old self so a new one can take its place. That’s an easy thing to write, but devilishly difficult to actually achieve.
Just about everyone has had the experience of accidentally slipping off a precipice of one sort or another, hitting bottom, and having to put oneself together again. So the notion of doing it deliberately is scary. Yet, at crucial turning points in life, there’s simply no other option.
Near the end of the classic adventure film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, the hero faces the last and most fearful of three challenges he must surmount before he can gain entry to the chamber wherein rests the Holy Grail. Getting there has become a life-or-death matter.
Earlier the swashbuckling archaeologist has been told that “the search for the cup of Christ is the search for the divine within all of us.” But, as we know from Indy’s previous adventures, inward searches are not his style.
Standing before a wide, bottomless chasm, he holds a mystical map that inexplicably portrays a knight walking on air across the chasm. Comprehending that must take a “leap of faith,” Indy holds his hand to his chest, blinks, gulps and then takes a big, cinematic step into the void. His foot lands on solid rock.
Now, from a perspective changed only a foot or so from a moment before, Indy can clearly see a narrow path that was totally camouflaged from view before his leap of faith. He crosses over and scatters glistening sand behind him to reveal the way to those who will follow.
This scene is a true and accessible illustration of the nature and practicality of faith. Faith is always a crossing from the known to the unknown. Ultimately it can provide knowledge of our wholeness, or “holiness,” wherein lie our real security, stability and fulfillment.
Like Indy’s map, any guide to the unknown is necessarily mystical and suggestive, rather than logical or definitive. And the purpose of faith is not to uphold a prior belief in something already known, but to advance our perspective on what lies ahead.
Sometimes a leap of faith affords us only a few inches of progress, yet the subtlest shifts of view can provide enormous insights and a crucial understanding of the path before us.
Finally, one who has crossed over a seeming void can help illuminate the way for others who may follow.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: D. Patrick Miller
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Jane Rahman/Flickr