questioning wooden paddles
It was 1983, I was 23 years old, and my fun-loving boyfriend, Pete, and I were riding our bikes all over the San Fernando Valley, wearing no helmets, popping "wheelies" and flying off of curbs like we did when we were kids. We would ride for miles, with no destination in mind, except for the occasional dinner at Truly Yours where we would share delicious cream of watercress soup and a bottle of Fetzer wine.
One afternoon, as we raced through a big empty parking lot, Pete zoomed past me and I watched as he flew of the edge of a curb and disappeared. I followed suit, but as I got closer to the edge of the curb I heard him giggle and say, "Be a little careful!" With no time to adjust my speed, I went flying off the edge of what was actually a six-foot drop! I had no time to think or be afraid, and sailed through the air, landing beautifully on the sidewalk below. I was like a Motocross babe! Ha! Had I known that there was a six foot drop I probably would have crashed, but instead I just went with it, landed and kept riding. It was blind faith that saved me.
Sometimes blind faith can be a really good thing. Or, sometimes it can be just flat out silly. A family friend, Bob, told me a story about how he worked as a guard on a military base during the Korean war. One of his responsibilities was to carry this big, heavy wooden paddle everywhere he went. No one knew what it was for, but it was considered to be a very serious responsibility, and so he did as he was told, carrying it everywhere, marching with it when necessary, even prepared to protect it with his life if necessary. But, after weeks of this, he felt something wasn't quite right, and decided to do some research about the paddle. It turned out that once upon a time the wooden paddle had all of the military base rules painted on it for reference. Over time the paint had faded, yet decades later the tradition of carrying the almighty wooden paddle continued.
No one had thought to question it, until Bob came along. (And, to think that at one point he was willing to give his life to defend it!)
Over the years, through my trust and faith in God, I have learned how to fly by the seat of my pants and land safely. And, I've also carried around heavy wooden paddles at times, not knowing why I was doing it, other than I was told to do so, or believed I should.
Thankfully, I have learned that it's okay to question authority, even if that "authority" seems to be God. "God, why must I carry around this wooden paddle?" I implore, thinking it's God who gave it to me, and not realizing that I'm still carrying it around by my choice.
Thankfully, God loves me enough to let me know that the paint has faded, and it's time to put the paddle down and move on unencumbered.
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