Ok guys, here I am…after a most embarrassingly long sabbatical. Forgive my extended silence. I will not make the excuse that I had nothing to say, or even that I was to busy too say anything. But (along with my general laziness) it was partly that I lacked confidence in my ability to say it. However, I decided that if I continue to hold out on this until I am struck with a lightning bolt of inspiration, it is highly likely that I will never write anything. One is not likely to be struck by lightning when one is crouching under a bush. One must climb…trees, mountains, roofs, telephone poles…if one wishes the lightning bolt to find them. So here I am, scrambling up the tallest tree I can find. Scraped knees and bruises are in order. I haven’t climbed trees in a long time…bear with me.
Today’s topic – danger. A rather incongruous subject to my present state of safety and repose, but one is always more disposed to discuss dangerous things in security than when actually in danger. And why not? It is danger that makes safety so delightful and terrifying things that make simplicity and mundaneness so enjoyable. Only those who have never experienced danger can be bored by everyday life. And only those who delight in the everydayness of life can truly be ready for danger when it comes. The reason for this, of course, is love.
The person who is content and happy with life, enjoying mundane things and delighting in pure simplicity has a reason to fight. Better a farmer with a pitchfork fighting for what he loves, than a rigorously trained, hardened warrior that doesn’t care. That farmer fights because he loves his chores, his work, his animals, his mundane routines, his sweat, his dirt, his family. He fights because he wants to wake up early in the morning, watch the sun rising to caress his land with a glorious red glow, feed his animals and hear their contented chewing, he wants to scratch a pig’s bristled back and smell freshly cut hay, he wants to revel in the first moments of a newly born lamb and watch the baby horse taking its first steps, he wants to tickle his daughters, chase them around the barn, see their eyes sparkle, their giggles startle the horses, and straws of hay get lost in their curls, he wants to kiss his wife every morning, growing old with her, he wants to see his God in every blade of grass, in every drop of dew, and praise Him for sun, rain, joy, sorrow, laughter, and tears. He wants life with all its tiny, unimpressive feats and everyday miracles. He doesn’t seek out danger, but when danger comes he will meet it head-on, plunge into it with fear, but without a backward glance, because he loves.
The other man has become tired of life, mundaneness irritates him, simplicity bores him, he has no time, but all the time in the world. He fills his life with emptiness, surrounds himself with complexity to hide his loneliness, plunges into activity to mask his idleness. He has lost his curiosity, lost his imagination, lost his love…he seeks danger because he has lost his desire to live.
That farmer, if he loses his life to danger, gives it willingly for love. If he conquers the danger he praises God and comes joyfully back to his mundane life. The other man, if he loses his life, has given it willingly because it bored him. He sacrifices it because he is tired of it. That farmer offers his life back to God saying “thanks for the ride, it was a good one.” The other man shoves his life in God’s face saying “thanks for nothing, take this back, I don’t want it anymore.” If he comes through danger with his life, he is disappointed, the home-coming is anti-climactic and he is already seeking another drink, another draught of danger. In the words of G. K. Chesterton “A martyr is a man who cares so much for something outside him, that he forgets his own personal life. A suicide is a man who cares so little for anything outside him, that he wants to see the last of everything.”
Danger gives spice to life, it makes life worth living. But danger is also…well…dangerous. Let us not be so eager for danger that we forget to enjoy mundane life, and let us not cling so tightly to life that we are unwilling to face danger for its sake.