A little boy stands on the boat deck with increasing numbers of his loved ones in the water below shouting encouragement for him to take the last step and get in the raft below.
In the process of hours, he has moved from wrapping himself mid-ship to the nearest human or inanimate anchor to taking step after tentative step to the edge. At one point, he even extends his leg as if to step out, only to run back to the safety of leaving the raft out of his line of sight.
After a few minutes, the process begins again. Adults aboard ship offer to make it even easier by lifting him in to the raft – no go, that one.
Back to safety.
But there is that haunted, yearning look in his eyes. And I hope with all my heart that he will find the courage or determination or desperation to take that last step – because I recall that feeling from my own childhood so vividly – the feeling of wanting to do something so very badly and not having the ability to take that very last step – the disappointment in self larger even than the loss of the moment – and I silently root for him for all the times I didn't take the leap.
An aunt jumps in the water and gets in the raft, saying nothing to the wee boy. She splashes and floats and laughs and then pretends to notice the boy standing wistfully watching her and asks almost casually, Do you want to come in?
He nods, silently. His Dad lowers him in and all is well and within the hour he will float alone with confidence and even get into the lake water whose depths had so frightened him before.
Sometimes all it takes is an invitation.
Sometimes a welcoming aunt showing you the way.
Or a dad standing behind you.
But at the last, it always takes the willingness to take that very last step – the leap of faith.