Yesterday while out and about doing priest stuff, I was brought to see what I’ve never seen before but which I might blindly drive within feet of – on one side of the river – at least once per week, the “river’s end” of the Nantahala Gorge immediately before it dumps into the extreme southern end of Fontana Lake (reservoir). I’ve always been on the upper highway. It’s funny how you can live in a place and never see the sights that millions of people flock to see.
I always knew that all kayakers and rafters get out of the river immediately prior to these rapids with their jagged hidden boulders amidst churning vortexing impossible to exit back currents, but I didn’t know that one could simply drive down to see them on the other side of the river. There is a bridge. Duh… And now I know why the river’s end is so famous. Such rapids. Wow.
The above 15 second video just had to be taken. I’m too old now, but I instantly knew as soon as I saw these rapids that if I had grown up anywhere near here – and I know by way of Ancestry.com that I have plenty of relatives in these here mountains – that I would have been here daily with a tiny, easily shoulderable kayak making this 300 yard precipitous descent a thousand times a day. But, don’t do this. I hear it’s actually dangerous.
As it is, where I grew up as a kid up in Minnesota, a similarly dangerous extreme sport was available to me that I’ve described elsewhere, the misuse of a trick-downhill-ski-jump as a long distance jump. I’m the only one who did this to such an extreme, sailing along the tops of the tall Minnesota north woods forest trees far past any slope of any hill and landing on the “flats” far below again and again, electrifying and somehow peaceful, adrenaline filled and somehow peaceful, death defying and somehow filled with life, crowds watching and yet being utterly alone (as no one else was so crazy), utterly alone and yet flying with the angels – it seems I was in the air for the longest time – flying with the angels and yet being reprimanded by the ski patrol and administration of the business, reprimanded for risk retention, but all with a wink and a nod as this helped to bring some life to the place.
Some might say skill sharpening is boring because, although they might try something once, if they survive, even just barely, they quit, and just don’t get the point of, you know, having fun with what you do. Do these people never have fun? It’s like a life of compromise, the ol’ just enough to pretend that one is getting by attitude, getting by, that is, until one doesn’t.
Some, like me, might say that skill sharpening is fun. You take the most unpredictable thing, and not only survive but learn to have mastery over it, not just predictably surviving, but managing how you survive, even turning the most dangerous aspects into that which works for you, in this case learning to pivot off of boulders through the air, spinning with perfect control into… what?… Who knows? But it’s fun.
Why is it fun? Because there’s an analogy with not compromising in life. If 100% of the time you’re not compromising truth or morality, you’ll find yourself having really a lot of fun, call it the joy of the Holy Spirit.
That joy of the Holy Spirit is not something you can control, but it is something you can take on board in dealing with the unpredictable so as to use obstacles to pivot you into, well, even more joy in the Holy Spirit.
Does this priest have too much fun? No. I should say not. You can never have too much joy in the Holy Spirit. That joy is there for the asking, by anyone, at any time, no matter what: Bless me Father, for I have sinned, my last confession was…
That’s an extreme sport. Falling on your knees. Yes, it is. :-)