At nine p.m. on a beautiful night two summers ago, I found myself paralyzed against a cliff that was a good 130 feet above a winding canyon road. A head lamp bounced sporadically around my neck, and bats swarmed around me, nicking my helmet with their wings and feet. My hands were soaked in sweat, making it difficult to grip, and my legs rattled, making it just as difficult to keep climbing.
Under normal conditions, climbing that wall would be a dream. A beautiful view of the canyon, challenging cracks, and a whole lot of self-congratulations would be the reward of pushing through it. That night, however, it was dark. The holds were impossible to see without a lamp, and sometimes, I had to blindly feel around for them. Bats and birds flapped around the cliffs, my friends seemed miles below me, and to top it all off, that cliff was on top of an even steeper cliff that made you dizzy to look down. The weird thing was that I’d climbed walls of equal height before. I’d bouldered in the dark without much pause and climbed up off-trail sites that were extremely sketchy. For the first time in a long time, however, stuck on that wall, I completely choked. I made it up and I made it back down in one piece, but not without serious trepidation and anxiety.
“Isn’t clinging a good thing?”Dwelling on that experience has given me good insight about life and the challenges we often face in life. Unexpectedly, it’s also given me valuable insight into my scripture study, particularly a few scriptures in Lehi’s account of the Tree of Life that I have never been able to fully understand.