by Intern Minister McKinley Sims.
When my brother and I were little, he got a full-size trampoline for his birthday. It was an incredible day. We promptly spent the night on the trampoline, sleeping in denim blankets under the stars. We spent every day of that first summer (and most days of the summers to follow) bouncing and rolling on that trampoline. We came up with elaborate games and stories we’d act out, spray each other with Super Soakers, and work to understand the laws of physics that allowed us both to body-slam the trampoline at the same time, causing a certain Stretch Armstrong doll to fly onto the roof of the house. Force = Mass x Acceleration was pretty obvious after a week or two. It was a risky activity, and more than once, we were yelled at for being unsafe. Of course, we felt like daredevils defying death with every jump, but the reality is that neither of us could get hurt too badly. At first, just bouncing on the trampoline was exhilarating, but the honeymoon only lasted so long. Eventually, we got more comfortable just bouncing up and down, and the risk factor went way down.
The next logical step was, of course, trying to do a backflip.
I remember standing still, waiting, thinking, trying to decide how best to go about it. For the first time, I felt the reality of the risk. There was something like a paralysis that struck me, and I wasn’t prepared for it. I wasn’t used to being frozen in inaction. The first small step was a big step in this instance. I simply had to go for it. Fear would prevent me from fully committing to the jump, and that was infinitely more dangerous than jumping as high and as well as I could. To take the first step into my risk, I had to be willing to go all the way. I learned to be committed.
My sister, on the other hand, was not committed to risking a backflip. For her, simply bouncing on the trampoline at all was risky. Jumping too high was way too risky. Falling off was too risky. For her, simply taking the first step to bounce at all was a bigger risk than she was ready for.
We were each stepping out of our comfort zones, but at different levels of ability and into different levels of risk. Sometimes, that’s all you can ask. Not everyone is going to be able to commit to backflips, and that’s OK. Congregational life can be like that. Not everyone feels called to sing in the choir or to chair a committee. Sometimes, just going to a different service than the one you’re used to is a risk. It is good to take that step, though. That’s how we stretch and grow. May we all be willing to step into the risk with which we are comfortable, whether it’s jumping and flipping or simply getting up onto the edge of the trampoline. If we all commit to at least getting up on the same bouncy surface, take at least that amount of risk, then we can look up at the stars together.