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The Saturday Stoke #5

The Saturday Stoke #5

Listen to The Saturday Stoke #5


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The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward. Adventure is worthwhile in itself.
— Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart disappeared July 2nd, 1937 over the Pacific Ocean, en route to Howland Island from Lae, Papua New Guinea. She was venturing to fly around the world but fell short of her quest by about 7,000 miles. She was 39.

Before she disappeared, Amelia set aviation records, including being the first woman to cross the Atlantic on June 18th, 1928, and attempted feats no one ever had before her. If you look up the word “adventurer” in the dictionary, you’ll find her picture.

Photo  credit

Photo credit

Well, not really, but you get what I’m saying, right?

Amelia’s heart song played unfettered by the world’s drone that sings the dimming song of despair; a song that says, “Fall in line, be safe, and don’t do anything unexpected or out of the ordinary.”

Amelia, on the other hand, says, “Everyone has oceans to fly, if they have the heart to do it. Is it reckless? Maybe. But what do dreams know of boundaries?”

If you do actually look up the word adventurer, and I recommend you do so in Webster’s American Dictionary from 1828, you will find this definition:

n. hazard; risk; chance; that of which one has no direction; v. transitive., to risk, to put in the power of unforeseen events; intransitive., to dare, to try the chance.

What ocean awaits you to fly over it? What adventure calls your name today?

Amelia, after having flown across the Atlantic at the age of 30.

Amelia, after having flown across the Atlantic at the age of 30.

 “Adventure? Well, Tim, I have no time for an adventure,” you might say. “Isn’t it enough that you want us to seek out the green-dotted-roads, homo viator and all that?” If you’re confused about the reference to the green-dotted-roads, you’ll need to listen to last week’s Stoke.

I seem to remember Bilbo Baggins telling Gandalf nearly the same thing about adventures, in J.R.R. Tolkien’s book The Hobbit.

“We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures,” Biblo said. “Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner. I can’t think what anybody sees in them.”

Adventures can be ornery buggers—unpredictable, even painful. But I believe God made you and me for adventures.

Adventures always begin in the comfort and safety of the familiar.

Think of Bilbo entertaining the merry band of dwarves—eating cakes, drinking ale, and singing songs in his grand hobbit hole.

At one point, as he sat and listened to the dwarves sing, Bilbo’s heart leaped at the thought of hearing pine trees and waterfalls, of seeing mountains, of exploring caves and wearing a sword.

For a moment, Bilbo thought of his own potential—of what might be if only he’d take up the adventure.

Beginnings are like that. They tease with visions of grandeur then turn into something not so familiar. Eventually, the adventurer looks back and notices that the park, or hobbit hole, has disappeared.

The paths, no longer familiar, stretch on into the unknown and the landscape changes. That can be frightening and also invigorating. If you happen upon an old hobbit named Bilbo, just ask him. 

One of J.R.R. Tolkien’s original sketches for  The Hobbit.

One of J.R.R. Tolkien’s original sketches for The Hobbit.

My favorite adventures take me to new places; perhaps not dragon’s lairs, but to places and things just as beautiful, just as terrifying. And I believe that if you and I listen close enough and follow the sound, we only might discover the place for which our hearts yearn.

Bilbo, for those fleeting moments lost in the song of the dwarves, thought himself an adventurer. He wanted to exchange his walking stick for a sword.

But the thought of a dragon swooping in and destroying his village with fire righted his thoughts. Nope, he was happy in the Shire. He needed only his walking stick.

Walking sticks come in handy on familiar trails. They’re good for balance, the occasional snake, and are quite comfortable to lean on. But we must beware that we don’t let our walking sticks rob us of the joy of adventure.

It’s good, every now and then, to exchange our walking sticks for a sword. Sometimes, to find ourselves, we need to leave home and listen to the pines and waterfalls. Sure, a dragon might lie close by, but that’s what swords are for. 

Here’s a quick hack for adventuring. Faith requires an adventurers heart.

I think of the famous scene in the New Testament in which Peter sees Jesus walking on water during a storm. Jesus invited Peter to join him. And there it was. The moment of decision.

We like to skip to the act of walking on water, and why not? We love a good miracle.

But what about Peter’s decision to raise his foot and step from something he knew would keep him safe and onto something he knew could drown him?

Living is a constant finding, and a continual answering Christ’s invitation to join him out on the stormy seas.

“Come, discover more of me,” he says. “Try the chance and let me worry about the unforeseeable things. You can do it, trust me. I made you for this.”

Many of us feel like Bilbo, but dream of being Amelia. We want to fly the ocean, but the familiar of the known keeps us in the Shire.

So it comes to a choice. How do we choose the adventure awaiting us?

Perhaps these words from Amelia will set us free: ““The most effective way to do it is to do it.”

Stay stoked my friends.

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