The garage door across the street begins to slowly crawl upwards, revealing two sets of feet. They walk towards each other, and as the door opens fully, I see them embrace. It’s difficult to tell with the helmet around his head, but he looks young. She looks older, and nervous.
He climbs onto the motorcycle, and I continue to push the baby forward in the stroller, but my other two boys stop me. They stand ten feet behind me, transfixed on the scene across the street. My eldest does not divert his gaze as he tells me, “Mom, we need to see how fast he goes.” I stop, and I too become engrossed, but for a different reason. He pushes the bike backwards with his feet, slowly away from the house and onto the street. She steps forward hesitantly, blowing him a kiss and then hugging herself as she backs into the garage, her eyes still on him as he speeds away.
I am overwhelmed by the emotions that flood over me as I observe her watching her son. I picture my own boy on that motorcycle, his safety completely out of my control. And then I see myself at ten years old, walking into my home after a week with my grandparents to find my mom and dad in casts and stitches, road rash painted across them from the motorcycle accident that almost took them from us. I push the thought out of my mind as I take my boys’ hands and we cross the street.
An hour earlier on the playground I was climbing high on the ropes when my boy told me, “Mom, you can’t do that. It’s dangerous.” I smiled down at him, and told him he could climb too. “It’s ok to do dangerous things sometimes, if you’re very carful.” I tell him. Of course, this is before I witness the woman across the street watching her boy ride off on his motorcycle. She may be braver than I will ever be.
For months now as we have prepared for our move to the mountains, I have prayed countless prayers for my boys’ safety. We moved here for adventure; to give them all the opportunity we can to chase the beauty of God’s creation, to push themselves to new limits, to discover new strength, to learn how to watch out for each other, and to realize how small they are, and how large this world is. All the while, I knew that my very reasons for wanting to bring them here are also the very reasons I am most afraid of.
All of these things that we long for them to experience require an element of danger. And it has been a very real struggle of mine to trust that God will protect my boys as they venture out into His dangerously beautiful earth. But if I shelter them from all of the danger, I will be simultaneously keeping them from many of the most beautiful places on earth. I will be inhibiting them from experiencing awe and wonder. I will be holding them back from knowing and worshiping God in a very intimate way. And that would be something I would always regret.
For now while they are four and two and not even one, we will hold hands while we teach them about snakes and lions and unpredictable weather and not going too close to the edge. But I know that the day will come when it will become my turn to stand by and watch. And I will need to trust that what we have taught them will ring true in their hearts as they go about their adventures—the adventures we intentionally made a part of them by bringing them here.
Today my boy scaled the rope gym at the playground, and as he did so, I stared off at the 14,000 foot mountain peak behind him, knowing that one day that summit will become his playground. The thought makes my heart burst with both fear and pride. Fear for the day when his safety will be completely out of my control, and pride in knowing that climbing those heights will become so much a part of who he is.
Because the years spanning from now until then will be full of encouraging the wild in his heart, not stifling it. They will be marked by intentional teaching about how to be safe amongst the wild beauty of this planet, all while giving him and his brothers every opportunity to experience that beauty in its fullness, and coming to know the One who created it, and who created them with an innate need to explore their world, even when it holds a bit of danger.