The Plunge Into the Unknown
Taking a plunge into the unknown is an important step in loving fully. The mind tries to control the experience and guarantee the absence of pain or hurt. It wants to know what will happen each step of the way. But the heart urges us to take the leap into the unknown and more deeply experience the mystery of life and love. This leap of faith is an essential ingredient in finding what we are really wanting … to live more completely. Life offers us many small plunges into the unknown to prepare us for the big leaps such as marriage, children, and eventually, death.
Recently I had an opportunity to experience one of these small plunges into the unknown. At the end of August, Barry and I took our nine-year-old son, John-Nuri, along with his two best friends, to a water theme park. Since our favorite park was closed, we had to travel several hours to a park we had never visited. There was a water slide at this park that sent chills through me when I first saw it. We watched in amazement as people climbed a seven story tower, and dropped through an enclosed nearly vertical tube that gradually leveled out into a water slide. We were told that you reached a speed of 45mph while falling.
Having always been afraid of heights, this ride terrified me. Yet something within me caused me to join the long line of mostly boys and their fathers. I couldn’t help noticing that I was the only mom. I asked some of the older boys to describe the ride. The response was “wild,” or “awesome,” or “scary.” My mind wanted to know exactly what I would experience and was quick to tell me I was a fool for trying this slide. My heart quietly urged me to take the plunge into the unknown.
After a half hour of sweaty palms and dry mouth, it was my turn to go. Cautiously I climbed the tower, clinging to the guardrail. As we neared the top Barry, who was behind me, tried to get me to enjoy the view of the park and nearby lake. Yet all I could see was the guardrail I was clutching, and all I could feel was the thumping of my heart.
Finally I reached the top only to find a totally bored lifeguard reading a magazine and waving me to enter the tube. She was totally unaware of the fierce drama playing inside of me. I looked down into the blackness of the tube, put my life into God’s hands and asked for a spiritual experience. Soon I was falling at a tremendous speed through the dark passage. Before I had time to even feel afraid I was out into the light and the pressure of water surrounded my body and brought it to a place of safety. I felt gently rocked and slowed down by the immense forces all around me.
I felt ecstatic! I took a plunge into the dark unknown and was brought to a gentle safe place, just like the wings of the angels are always there to catch us when we fall and bring us to light-filled safety. John-Nuri rushed over to me, “I’m proud of you, mama.” I was rather proud of myself in that moment.
For Barry and me, a great plunge into the unknown came when we were 22 years old. We had been together four years, alternating between being deeply in love and struggling over our religious difference. Ultimately, we could accept my being Christian and Barry being Jewish, but we couldn’t get past what religion our future children would be. We were both very attached to our own religious heritage, and couldn’t imagine raising our children without these. We often argued and even broke up several times because of this issue. Finally our love for one another won out and we decided to take a huge plunge into the unknown and get married anyway. We decided to simply trust that we could resolve this situation when our first child came. Our minds rebelled at the unknowingness, yet our hearts urged us to be together.
Seven years later we gave birth to our first child. By that time we had become deeply immersed in the unity of all religions and had found the spiritual truth and essence of each one. Rami was born into that unity of our hearts.
Ten years later we told Rami that we almost didn’t marry because we didn’t know what religion she would be. She looked at us incredulously and simply said, “But I love God!”
Love is a never-ending mystery. We need to take the plunge into the unknown to fully experience its wonder.