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June 28, 2013

NOTES FROM THE JOURNEY: Tightrope walking in real life

By JOHN PAUL CARTER

Last Sunday night I was glued to the TV watching Nik Wallenda walk across the Little Colorado River Gorge on a 2-inch-thick steel cable, 1,500 feet above the floor of the Grand Canyon.

He had only a 43-pound, 30-foot flexible pole for balancing and no harness or safety net to catch him if he fell. Once he began, there was no turning back on a perilous journey in which one misstep would almost certainly result in his death.

A seventh generation member of the famous “Flying Wallendas” circus family, the 34-year-old braved the wind gusts, fatigue and fear, only pausing twice to refocus because of the wind and an unsettling rhythm in the cable.

With Nik’s family tensely looking on and his father encouraging him, he made the breathtaking quarter-mile walk in slightly less than 23 minutes. The splendid camera and audio work put his worldwide audience on the wire with him. It reminded me a little bit of how it might have been to watch Peter’s perilous walk on the stormy Sea of Galilee. I was a nervous wreck!  

Wallenda, who trained intently for this attempt ever since last year’s daring walk above Niagara Falls, prayed audibly almost every step of the way. His successful crossing was a brave example of the merging of careful preparation and trust in God. The stakes were too high not to both prepare and pray.  

Although a death-defying feat like Wallenda’s walk on a wire over the Grand Canyon without a safety net is remarkable, it pales in comparison to the dangers we face in our everyday living over a lifetime. Indeed, life is often like walking a tightrope without a safety harness – a high stakes balancing act. Whether we’re keenly aware of our vulnerability or oblivious to the risks involved to ourselves and those around us, we’re all real-life tightrope walkers.

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