By Laura Acuff, Opinion Editor
A few days ago, I had the opportunity to really try rock climbing – no, not on a rock wall at a gym, but on an actual slab of vertical rock face.
When I say, “rock climb,” that part probably sounds like a given to some. But even though I’d seen pictures of my friends scaling what, to me, appears to be monstrous cliffs, somehow when I anticipated what I’d be climbing, it still looked a lot like a rock wall from a gym, just without all the bright colors.
The trip was sponsored by the ACU Outdoor Club. We traveled to Lake Brownwood Saturday morning, picked up trash and hauled brush until lunch, then rewarded ourselves with an afternoon of climbing.
The first tip I was in for a surprise came while I was picking up trash in the lakeshore’s network of tiny canyons, which I suppose were carved out by the lake itself over the years. As I sifted the brush for forgotten pieces of Styrofoam and shards of broken glass, some of the guys were using a rope to lift piles of dead branches out of the canyon. Having decided their makeshift system was at least more fun, if not more efficient than simply carrying the piles out by way of some stairs, they experimented with the knots until they found a method that seemed effective.
Then, one of the guys decided he wanted to head for the top. Instead of running up the stairs, he scurried straight up the rock face and over the top.
Knowing how much my companions enjoyed climbing, I can’t say I was altogether surprised. What shocked me most was the speed and lack of concern with which he scaled the rock. He found hand and foot holds in places I would never have seen.
It suddenly began to sink in: this was no rock gym.
I don’t necessarily think rock gyms make for easier climbs. I don’t have enough experience to make that call. But at least in a gym, you know exactly what likely constitutes a place to grab or step on and what definitely does not. Those neon colors do help a little.
Later that day, with gear and climbing shoes on, I looked up at my first official challenge. I’d been assured it was one of the easiest climbs at the lake, and I’d even watched another club member scale it a moment before. But I still struggled to visualize cracks and dips in the rock face I perceived deep enough to support a person.
It was time to go, and I could think of no more reasons to stall. I wedged my toes in a crack and began to pull myself toward the top. The girl belaying me patiently waited as I searched for potential holds, and before I knew it, I’d reached the top.
As the day stretched on, I began to see more and more holds and grips in the rock where before I’d assumed climbing would be impossible.
At one point, I remember taking a long look around and thinking to myself the miniature network of boulders and canyons by the lakeside was a veritable playground, full of possibilities.
Then I realized that with the right mindset, all of the earth could hold such promise. God has placed us on a planet full of potential playgrounds; we just have to see the potential in each slab of rock.
I’m not going to harp on protecting the environment. At this point, most people already have decided whether that’s a personal priority. Instead, I want to urge everyone to look for the beauty in everything – whether it’s the person sitting next to you in Chapel or the fallen leaf on the sidewalk.
God created the earth and paused to see it was good. Surely life is more enjoyable, more fulfilling, if we too just pause to see the good.