Musings of a Methodist Mum, Wife, (oh and student Minister). My thought's typed out as I prepare for a placement in Jamaica!
The bungee jumper
The man has cobalt steel eyes, which mirror the deep blue of the rushing waters far, far below. He leans over the bridge for the ten thousandth time, as if expecting to see something that he missed when, seconds ago, he last stared at the furious cold cauldron below.
Down there boils a swirling, rushing, watery chaos, oblivion waiting it’s time, waiting for him. The watching crowd are rigidly tense, afraid to move, wanting him to cancel his death defying leap, yet at the same time desperate to see him finally clamber over the rail, and fly. Perhaps they feel guilty because their desire to see him jump is stronger than their hope for his safety.
The time has come at last. Checking the coiled cord one last time, he hauls himself up onto the narrow rail, arms outstretched, a portrait of balance and poise. He stands aloft, his cold eyes staring straight ahead. If his body is still, then his nervous system is somersaulting within him. He wrestles now with his brain, which screams its natural warnings about height and safety and death and, don’t you know that humans aren’t supposed to fly? His eyelids drop, and, head up still, he looks down. Now that he is on the rail, nothing stands between him and the abyss below. All that is needed now is the bending of his knees, pushing his whole body forward and out, into nothing. The jump itself.
His back is ramrod straight still, every muscle taut, adrenalin screaming around his body at an impossible rate now. And then, casting all of his careful preparation to the winds, he breaks his concentration and turns his head to the breathless crowd. They are transfixed. Smiling doesn’t seem appropriate, it’s too trivial. Their faces wear more serious expressions, grave, somber even, sober tributes to his coming bravery.
The critical second arrives. The millisecond when you command your legs to push you out into nothing. Perhaps he senses the rushing onslaught of final fear, last second terror, and so, as if to flee the approaching paralysis that cannons towards him, he throws himself out, swallow like, into the air. He glides outward, and then, as the crowds cry out, he plummets downward towards the boiling rocks and foam below. His stomach is in his throat, knowing now what it feels like to commit suicide. The wind rushes through his hair, as he plummets down for ever. It is only 2 or 3 seconds, and then he feels the tension of the cord, straining against his weight to take up the slack. Let the calculations be correct; he should decelerate quickly, allowing him to just hit the rapids with his extended fists, before bouncing back up again, his graceful flight now rendered into a comical, clumsy elastic return. The bird becomes a man again, a helpless, bobbing floppy doll, hurled up – and then down, up – and then down. He has beaten his fear, and dived into the face of death. The crowds far above cheer, voices from another world. He has done it. He is the bungee jumper.
What did it feel like, Jesus, the day that you peered over the parapet of heaven and prepared to take your own dive? Did you stare and recoil at the swirling madness below? Did the stench of hollow religion drift up and wrinkle your nostrils? You were to dive from that lofty, ordered Father’s house, down and down and down and still further down, into the murky morass of blood and pain so far below. You were to plummet from that calm and that place of song into our sweaty, writhing chaos. From the world of rapture to our thunder dome of rape and rebellion; from immortality to the grime and tedium of time. Did you look around you at the sea of stunned angel faces, bowed and paled now at the sight of this holiest sacrifice? Was there any moment of farewell as you stepped in a millisecond from being the richest to being the poorest?
Our minds implode as we try to grasp the enormity of it all. But this mental feat is nothing, compared to the acrobatics that we experience as we think: incarnation.
Can we tiptoe for a moment onto that holy ground, and consider the magnificent Christ – becoming a tiny, embryonic speck? What God-work could bring that metamorphosis about, as the Prince becomes……seed? This is a miracle that dwarfs the five thousand fed a billion times. Perhaps this towers above the empty tomb, this longest journey ever, from throne to virgin womb. We have to blink, to look away, our eyes and hearts can’t grasp this most enormous step.
No comforting cord held you in your dive earthward. It was the leap of no return, except by but that one Calvary way. Down and down you came, and then the Creator-Partner of all this is becomes the pink faced baby, crowned in a stinking shed. The angels couldn’t resist – the magnificence of it all demanded that the heavens be split open for a while, if only to lonely shepherds on night shift. Wise men came by, drawn by reverberations in the spirit world, directed to the very spot by an obedient star.
‘And little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes’.
The writer of the otherwise beautiful carol got it wrong. Why wouldn’t you cry? Like any baby, you felt cold, fear, damp, pain, and hunger. Who has traveled further? From the drawing board of creation, to a haystrewn trough. From a King’s robe to swaddling cloths.
And there was no cord wrapped around your ankle to spring you back to eternity’s breast again. No way out, no emergency exit. Just a cross, with it’s agony, and it’s ultimate reward.
You came, Jesus, and pitched your tent among us. Bold prophets and angelic messengers couldn’t do what you did. Who has it all, and then throws it away? Where are the rich who have decided to walk the path of downward mobility?
But there is a truth that is a billion times more difficult to grasp than this incarnation of yours, which is hard enough to comprehend. My mind begins it’s own rebellion at the very idea of a throne to womb journey. But then, the reason for your voluntary dive is the news that really staggers.
You stood on the handrail of heaven, and free fell.
You looked over, looked down, saw us.