Have you ever felt like you were looking into the abyss?
The others had left me behind. They had descended a cliffside trail down which I could not maneuver. “Go ahead I’ll be fine.” Famous last words. Or so I started to think…
As far as my eyes could see there were only rough and crumbly cliffs, a narrow sliver of sandy beach, and miles of crashing waves. America ended right out there, just beyond the repetitious pounding of the sea. And here I was at the edge. Alone.
I looked down and saw, far below, skeletal remains of, what was it? Deer? Probably deer. What would make them jump to their death? Then I became focused. Mountain lions. That’s what would make them jump! And here I was, like them, susceptible to a predator. I turned so I would not be taken by surprise and when I turned I saw…nothing. Nothing but scrub brush blown by a buffeting coastal wind.
I had seen a mountain lion once, in the wild, as it slunk up a hill. Lanky, not sweet kitten-like. And I was glad I got the back view as it was moving on, leaving, rather than arriving hungry. The coat was shiny and short so it captured, reflected and glistened with sunlight. There was a deadly beauty about it. That’s what it’s like to face the abyss, there’s something deadly and deterministic about it. Yet something beckoning in its beauty.
Recently I was at an event where a man spoke of a moment in time where he lay down to die. He was sure it was his final time on this plane of existence. But he did not die. And when he recovered enough to understand, he became dedicated to a new life, a transformed life. That’s the gift of the abyss. It offers a death and rebirth. There’s something beyond it which we cannot see until we face it and accept the call.