What's on your bucket list? Only in the last couple of years have I had the courage to put on paper the things I want to experience in this life. My list changes almost daily. More often than not, opportunities arise that I had never before considered and I'm learning to grab hold and take the ride. Then I add it to my bucket list and check it off. Is that cheating?
One of those crazy opportunities came up last week when I arrived at my Dad's house in Spokane, Washington. My step-sister invited me to join her and her daughter in an upcoming Dirty Dash. When all was said and done, eight of us "Newcomb" women descended upon a local thrift shop and outfitted ourselves with tacky, Dirty Dash worthy outfits and running shoes. We signed the required release waiver which, after giving warnings about risks of injury, attacks from wild animals, and the certainty that this would be a tough run, ended with this statement:
"All such risks being known, assumed and appreciated by me."
Being in the Dirty Dash turned out to be a lot like my life's journey. Just like the warnings in the release waiver, I can just picture myself in the pre-existence being taught about the many experiences I might encounter during my mortal existence. Some challenges probably sounded pretty scary, but I was so excited to get a body and experience mortality, I was willing to go through hard times. I was taught that I would get dirty and that there would be pain. No one gets through life unscathed. But our older brother Jesus Christ promised He would help us and make it possible for is to be clean again. I can imagine that waiting in line at "the starting gate" must have been full of anticipation.
First, we had to stand in line and wait for our turn to run. I wonder what I did while I waited for my turn on earth. What did the group before me say? What am I teaching the generation following me?
Right from the beginning of the race, there was mud. We saw five injured runners before we even started our journey. Then we had to run along a hot, dusty road. I never thought I would welcome crawling on my belly through narrow culverts in a foot of muddy water. The eight of us stuck together and helped each other get over, under and through each obstacle. One of the biggest challenges, in my opinion, was waiting in line to slide down the ginormous water slide. Patience has always been a trial for me. But we cheered each other on.
My ten-year-old niece, Sara, taught me what it really means to have courage. Her body shook. Tears channeled over her mud-streaked cheeks. Her breath came out in sobs. But she climbed over those barricades and conquered the ten-foot rope ladders. At first I yelled encouraging words to boost her confidence, but as she took on each test, my cheers became more and more sincere. By the end, I had tears running down my cheeks as I watched her eyes spark with the joy of accomplishment.
We finished the race strong, holding hands and running through the last mud puddle. We finished together and we finished strong.
|The daring, darling, Dirty Dashers!|
Later that evening, my fourteen-year-old niece asked her older, more experienced cousin about high school and if it was going to be hard. Megan answered Shayley with wisdom beyond her years:
"High school is kind of like the Dirty Dash." It's as hard or as easy as you choose to make it, and as fun as you want to make it. The more effort you put into it, the more worthwhile your experience is going to be."
Just like life. And thanks to a muddy, tough race through the forest, I appreciate the risks more than ever. I am grateful for this glorious chance to experience mortality. And I am thankful for the Savior's gift that enables me to overcome the challenges and be washed clean from all the mud.