Bravery is gumption, a shrewd intent to defy possible ghastly outcomes. Bravery is getting in the Cessna, not walking out of it. Exiting the plane when it’s in a nosedive is actuated survivorship – no bravery required just get off the plane now. No guts needed when falling uncontrolled, uncontrollably through pale, thin space. With screams and prayers and screaming prayers – “Oh God oh God oh God I don’t want to die yet God” – I torched through the air through the baby blue sky through puff ball clouds past birds on a high hot wire and over the top of a suddenly-there house. I was slamming towards dirt at breakneck speed. Silence erupted around me in the final seconds before meeting earth. I glanced above through the burning center hole of a once perfectly domed parachute and then down at the patch of vegetable garden looming larger and spikier below me. And then I saw a tree. One tree in a three-square-mile radius and my chute found it and latched onto it like a baby clinging to Daddy’s ankle, begging him not to go away. My parachute hugged and wrapped and wound itself to the only tree in sight and broke my near-death fall.
Bravery isn’t how I go now: alone in Old Sue on a 6,000+ mile trip across the country, living on the kindness of kith and kin, eating their soup of human goodness, resting my head on plush pillows of love. Bravery is that I go at all, that I get on a Cessna and live. That I leave my old, broken-down life, desert my endlessly hopeless bullet-ridden bowl of fragmentary dreams is gumption.
Twice in my life I was saved by a tree: a parachute-attracting oak in the middle of a nowhere corn field, and the Tree my Jesus hung on, died on for me. In a discordant rhapsody I have been squandering my life. So now I’ve quit the dead-end pursuit of happily-ever-after, a life pursued in a dream warped trance.
I rested so long in too little, content for scraps and bones thrown in dark corners. My sinew and marrow grew lazy with the fat of nothingness and sluggish me rose up finally from a deep, deep sleep of pervasive lethargy. No prince to kiss me awake and alive, just the call of Purpose and Meaning curling its fragrance beneath my nostrils and rousing me from drugged depths. “You’re wasting your life and your minutes and your breath. Find your heart! Get some gumption, girl”, whispered kind, merciful God. And so I did.
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.
Proverbs 13:12 (NLT)