This photo, by Gard Karlsen, is of Preikestolen in Stavanger, Norway. “Preikestolen” means “pulpit rock” in English, named so because of its resemblance to an old school pulpit when viewed from below. When you stand on the edge and look down, the next ground you see is 1800 feet away, a straight and perilous drop. I have no natural fear of heights (some would say I have an unnatural and perhaps unhealthy lack of such fear), so can’t speak to what that may feel like to others with that challenge. But for me, places like this are deeply centering. What is it about standing in such places that inspires us so?
In part, I think it’s because we all know what it’s like to stand on the edge. To hold our breath on the precipice, peering over into the unknown…whether that “unknown” is a potential new (or deepening) relationship, a potential new career, a potential victory over a longstanding obstacle to our souls, or a potential defeat that we suspect cannot be avoided anymore and may be the only way to make a way for ourselves back to life again. Edges like these are all about potential…the possibility of what might be, what could be, on the other side of a daring decision.
I’m struck by the triple metaphor the image of Preikstolen proclaims–that when we come to grand edges, to cliffs such as these, there is not only some great faith-step to take (jumping off into the possible, the hopeful but unknown), but there is also, prior to jumping, something to proclaim (it’s a pulpit, after all!), and something to be quiet and wonder at, to be in awe of…to worship. We are all called upon to take these big leaps of faith and courage from time to time, and I love the encouragement I find here to neither run from the challenge, or take the leap too quickly. These are thoughtful moments, holy moments, these times on the edge of things…at the ending of the what has been, and the beginning of the who knows what, where our greatest hope waits for us to join it.
This has nothing to do with suicide or any self-destructive behavior. These cliffs are all about the ballsy pursuit of authentic LIFE. It’s on the cliffs that you learn how to say yes and how to say no, and make it stick for good. It’s on the cliffs that you learn what you truly want, and what you don’t want anymore. If you run from these things, you never learn to live. You never uncover who you really are.
As you linger on the edge, what is it you need to proclaim? What is it you need to be still and wonder at? What sort of relationship do you want to have with the “unknown” you’re jumping into?
What if you chose to make it something like this?
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