7:30 BELLS: Stumbling Over the Wall and Into . . .

"It is by jeopardy, not invulnerability, that the hero matures.” Jane Hirshfield's line from Nine Gates rang in my mind when I passed this moss-covered stone wall. Before it lay last year’s sodden leaves—known, dead, and yet leading to the crumbling wall with its vibrant moss. On the other side of the wall, a deep canyon drops down into the woods.

I remembered the rest of Hirshfield’s passage: 
“It is by jeopardy, not invulnerability, that the hero matures. Habit, laziness and fear conspire to keep us comfortably within the familiar. There we may make our way in the dark and never stumble against an unexpected wall . . .”

Usually we think of the unknown being dark, not the known and the familiar. This reversal resonates with me. The vulnerable places we turn toward cast light on the walls we need to cross. On the worlds we need to enter to keep growing up and growing up, forever up.

This green wall is beautiful. Unexpected. Promising. I stop long enough to look over into the woods. And wonder. How it would be to cross the wall and plunge into the woods, risking brambles, sliding stones, to reach . . . what? 

All we can glean in advance about that “what” is the strength of the choice we make to find out. Sometimes all we know is that it's time to reach out of the familiar darkness, stumble over the wall, and press onward into the good green light.

7:30 BELLS Posts run every Tuesday.

7:30 BELLS Guest Posts run on the second and fourth Tuesdays of every month. Join me on February 10 for a guest post with author Brent Hartinger.