A few weeks ago, I trained as a C.O.P.E. course instructor for the Boy Scout of America. COPE is an acronym for, “Challenging Outdoor Personal Experience.”
There are various challenging elements each person in the group is invited to participate in but are never forced to perform. It is truly something that challenges each individual in a personal way if he/she choses to engage in the experience. After each task is completed, the instructors are encouraged to seek discussion with regard to the exercise that inspires deeper meaning and growth from each participate.
Now, instead of a bunch of boy scouts, I was delighted to work with groups of young women, ages 12-17, ready to take on the course! Starting with simpler elements that encouraged trust within the group, we stood together solving problems that required team work and communication. Moving through each element, we progressed from floating logs just above the ground, only requiring good balance and attentive spotters, to a web of rope demanding all members of the team to lift and support one another to get through. This was only the beginning. Within a few hours we had reached our final element, “The Leap of Faith.”
This element not only required two harnesses, a helmet, spotters, a belayer and anchor, but the ability to climb 25 feet up a small pole. Climbing the pole for some might have been challenging enough, giving the participant the liberation of scaling “new heights.” But that was only the first obstacle. After making way, one small rung at a time, the person was then required to position themselves standing on a small “dinner-plate” sized disk…THAT ROTATED! Finally, positioned atop, heart pounding, the participant was asked to now take a “leap of faith,” by jumping forward in an attempt to grab hold a trapeze swing some 8 feet in front of the pole.
Now, how many of you are asked to take your “leap(s) of faith?” Most likely, you begin by simply looking up at a tall pole. You think, “I can’t do that!” After wobbling your way to the top (you did it because we all have to go through challenging situations), you assume you have completed the task. Whew! Just as you climb up to your secure little perch, you come to the realization that this…assignment, burden, trial, expectation, calling, duty…ISN’T OVER!
The hardest part is yet to come. It is time to perform the ultimate challenge, a “leap of faith.” You are required to do something you deem impossible. Although you are secure with harnesses, anchors, belayers, spotters…you are still full of fear. When you climbed the pole, you could see the handholds, you could hold on! You also were well aware of the height of the pole. You could also see the top.
But leaping…that requires serious faith, for true faith is “hope for things which are not seen, which are true.” And if you are expected to leap forward and grab a small trapeze bar that leaves little comfort, that becomes a truly challenging personal experience. Everything in life, be it 20 ft poles or real, everyday challenges, can seem daunting and truly impossible. But when we find ourselves at the top and overcoming those challenges full of faith, we can achieve personal fulfillment and blessings previously unknown. So take that “leap of faith”!