My family and I went to Crater Lake National Park for a camping vacation.  Crater Lake is this pristine lake created by a volcano that erupted then caved in.  The hole that was created was filled by rain water and snow ( 44 ft/year) melt.  It’s the most body of water I have ever seen.  It is the 5th deepest lake in the world; the deepest point being 1, 947 ft (or close to that I think).

There is only one legal way to get down to the lakes edge and that is by Cleetwood Trail.  The trail is down hill 1.1 miles with a few switch backs.  It’s a beautiful hike down.  Once you get down there, there is a boat launch that will take you on a 2 hour boat tour of the lake or drop you off at Wizard Island for more hiking.  But if you go past the dock and back up a trail, you will find a cliff that people like to  jump off of.  We had no idea that cliff existed until we saw everyone jumping.  It looked like so much fun!  I have never really given cliff diving/jumping much thought, until the opportunity presented itself.  My son Nate took the plunge and had a blast.  He didn’t even think twice.

I watched several other people take the plunge.  A group of 2 young men and 1 of their girl friends jumped.  The boys went first, but she hesitated.  After a few minutes she jumped and screamed all the way down.  I watched another “dad” consider a jump.  He was scared and nervous, as was I.  I had tried to just get to the ledge to jump and couldn’t do it.  I was terrified.  So finally, I told the man, “If you do it, I will.”  Well he did!  I tried to get up on the ledge again, but was scared.  Finally, I found a spot that was just a few inches from where everyone else was jumping.  It was easier for me to get up on.  Nate held my hand as I positioned myself on the launching point.  And I made that big mistake, I looked down!

There I was on the ledge.  There was a young man there in red swim trunks with a “lifeguard” patch on the leg.  He told me he was a life guard and would make sure I was safe.  I laughed and asked him, “How do I know you didn’t buy that at a thrift store on the way  here?”  Still I couldn’t jump.

Every time I thought I was going to jump, I would feel myself pull back and say, “NO WAY!”  Eventually that young man in the red swim trunks jumped down off the ledge beside me.  He was down in the water cheering me on.  Behind me there were at least 30 maybe 50 people just watching me.  I could hear them.  “All she has to do is jump.”   “Just jump!”  “Come on, you can do it!”

Below me in the water was the young “life guard”.  He started to clap on rhythm.  Then everyone behind me up on the ledge began to clap along with him.  I stood there with my arms open and prayed.  “God is in everything. God is in the rocks that support me.  God is in the air in which I will fly.  God is in the water which will receive me lovingly.  God and I are one.  If God and I are one, then I am one with this mountain, one with the air, one with the water.  Since I am one with all of these things I am safe and protected.”  I took deep breaths, and I began to jump.  Then I would stop myself again.

What was I afraid of?  Not jumping out far enough away from the ledge and killing myself.  That was it.  I know how to swim.  I was just afraid to jump!  I remembered walking on hot coals…I could do that over and over and over again, but I couldn’t make this jump!

I took another deep breath and just when I was about to jump, I stopped myself again.  Fear.  Funny what fear stops you from doing.  It stops  you from living.  It stops you from taking risks.  It stops you from reaching your goals.  It stops you from making your dreams come true.  Do I want to live in fear the rest of my life.  Do I want to walk away from this once in a life time opportunity and know that I let fear win?  This was the year I am facing my fears and living fearlessly; am I going to let this mountain beat me?    This is SAFE. I have seen people jump and come back up safe and sound just to jump again.  I watched my own son do this.  I CAN DO THIS!

One more deep breath and recognizing that I am ONE with creation.  This time, I felt my feet push off the ground!

This is where fear  lets go and true freedom sets in.  In that moment where you stand at the teetering edge, you can either step back or you can just jump!  You can either step back in fear or trust that you are loved cared and protected! You can play it safe or take that risk that will pay off in the end.  When have you stood on that edge and felt that?  I never expected to feel that LITERALLY, but there I was faced with this decision.  I was terrified.  All kinds of thoughts went through my head.  “You are stupid”  “Don’t take the risk”  “You don’t have anything to prove to anyone.”  “If they all jumped off the bridge, would you?”

In the end, I realized that I had to JUST JUMP!  I had to welcome the change in my life.  I had to take the risk in order to grow!  I needed to let go of the fear and FEEL the FREEDOM!!!

There is total freedom in letting go…in free falling…and in being welcomed by the loving arms of the cool lake.  Once I was immersed in the cold water (50 degrees) all I could think about was how amazing the jump amazing the water felt around me…and I had better have enough air to get back up to the top. *laugh*  Once my head broke the surface of the water, I gave out a shout and a whoop!  So exciting!  I thanked the guys that were in the water cheering me on.  .

Once I was in the water, I realized that a 10 year old girl named Hailey was at a lower jumping point, and she was scared.  Her brother, Aaron was in the water trying to coax her in, but she just wouldn’t budge.  She saw me on the ledge before my jump.  She saw how scared I was.  She saw me do it anyway.  So there I was in the cold water…treading water and cheering this little girl on.  “C’mon, Hailey, you can do this!  You are one with the water; it won’t hurt you.  Just jump!  I’ll be here for you in the water to make sure you are safe.  You are not alone!”  Finally, she jumped!  There she was jumping fearlessly into the water, and I was right there to make sure she could swim right back up and to the rocks to get out.  Once she was out and safe, her mom, Jackie, thanked me.  Little Hailey and her brother thanked me.  And we all climbed up the rocks and out of the water.

Everyone congratulated me as I climbed out of the water, and I felt amazing.  I had faced that fear!  And I got to help a little 10 year old girl face hers!  It was an amazing journey!  Did I mention that I have an extreme fear of heights?  Ya…I faced it!

The long 1.1 mile walk back up the mountain was hard, but it was made a bit easier by the thrill of  knowing I did something that I would have never been able to do before this year of living fearlessly and living fully!  On our walk back up, Hailey, Jackie, and Aaron caught up to us.  I told Hailey how proud I was of her.  And her mom told me that my  jump had inspired her, and she decided to face her fear and jump too!  *I* inspired *her*!  Amazing!

I had just finished reading the book The Alchemist, and there was a passage in there that said when you listen to the soul of the world and you make yourself better, you are making the world better for other people.  By helping yourself, you help others.  And then this jump happened.  By facing my own fears, I was able to not only help little Hailey, but I was also able to help her Mom!  Amazing the ripple effect we have on others.

This is Hailey, Jackie and Aaron in the parking lot at the trail head.  We were all smiles.  We exchanged pictures.  Complete strangers before the jump, and family after the jump.  Strangers passing on the ledge of a cliff became important parts of each other’s family vacations.  I love how the universe works!

Today in church, Rev. Jackie told a story about 2 frogs who fell into a deep hole.  It was so deep they had a hard time getting out.  The other frogs stood at the edge of the hole and shouted down, “You are going to die down there!  There is no way you will get out!”

The two frogs continued to jump as high as they could.  The other frogs continued, “Why are you jumping?  You are going to break your legs then you will NEVER get out of there!  You are just going to die!”

Unfortunately one of the frogs did die, but the other just kept jumping higher and higher and higher.  Eventually he jumped right out of the hole!  The other frogs looked at him in amazement.  “Couldn’t you hear us?  We told you to stop jumping because you were going to die!”  And the little frog replied, “really?  I couldn’t  hear you.  I thought you were just cheering me on to jump higher to get out!”

What and who are you listening to?  Are you listening to the other frogs in your life telling you that you will  never make it?  Are you listening to the fear in your head that tells you the jump will kill you?  Or are you choosing to hear the ones around you that are cheering you on?  Are you listening to those who are clapping and cheering?  Are you listening to your heart that says, “Just Jump!”

I know that on that teetering edge upon that cliff, I heard both of these voices.  I heard “Don’t jump, you are going to die!” and I heard, “Just Jump! You are loved, cared for and protected!”  I had to  make a choice, and I chose, “Just Jump!”

Rev. Jackie told us today, “Your tomorrow is created by your conduct today!”  What is your tomorrow looking like?  What are you creating TODAY?  Are you choosing to live in fear…..or are you choosing to live life to its fullest, taking those risks and celebrating the victories that come from it?