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  • Sarah Raad

Wheelbarrow

“A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, ‘You are mad; you are not like us.’” (Saint Anthony the Great).

The Virgin Mary (Ian Mitchell)

I have been thinking very much over the last few days about a story that I recently read because it taught me a very important lesson...


In the 1800s a man named Blondin, who was an acrobat, decided to challenge himself to walk across Niagara Falls on a tightrope. Some time after he had successfully completed this feat and being inclined to challenge himself further, Blondin decided to attempt to walk on that same tightrope across Niagara Falls again – only this time he decided to push a wheelbarrow in front of him all the way along that tightrope above the waters that raged almost 50 metres below him. A very large crowd gathered to witness this death-defying feat and when his feet were firmly planted on solid ground on the other side of the Falls after his walk, the crowd launched into deafening cheers!


One of the reporters who was there to report on the spectacle spoke to Blondin afterwards about the death-defying feat...


During their interview, Blondin asked, “Do you believe I can do anything on a tightrope?” And the reporter responded enthusiastically in the affirmative. Then Blondin asked “Do you believe that I can do it with a full wheelbarrow?” Again, it was an enthusiastic YES from the reporter… And so Blondin made his final point through his final question… “In that case, get into the wheelbarrow!”

And though I am sure that the reporter thought that Blondin was quite mad to make such a request of him, there is a very important lesson to be learned in this tale… And the lesson to be learned is the lesson of FAITH…

You see, faith is not something that you can only have half of…


Blondin could no more have half-faith, or almost-faith, or part-faith, or near-faith in his ability to walk along the tightrope across Niagara Falls than I should have half-faith (or almost-faith, or part-faith, or near-faith) in God’s saving infinitely merciful love for me.


For just as Blondin had to be entirely faithful to the endeavour of his spectacle or else risk death by falling into the Falls below, I too must be entirely faithful to the saving power of the Cross or else risk eternal damnation as my sinful soul deserves.


And that faith is CRAZY! It is MAD! It is UNBELIEVABLE! It is ALL IN! There is nothing left for “in-cases”… But such a faith is the sort of madness that comes from GREAT GOOD! Saint Anthony the Great said, “A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, ‘You are mad; you are not like us.’”


And as I reflect on this utter madness of faith, which is so unrecognised by the things of the earth, I can understand the confusion of earthly things in seeing true faith. For a person of true faith has profound insight into the Holy Will of God and that insight gives them great clarity. It is for that reason that saints like Saint John Chrysostom said, “Do not say then, ‘I am hated and that is why I do not love.’ For that is why you ought to love the most.”


Because people of great faith say nonsensical things that people without wisdom fail to understand – things like “get into the wheelbarrow”, or “love where you are hated”…


And, oh, how I pray for the Grace to be able to practice TRUE and UTTER and COMPLETE faith like that!


For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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