By: Mary Fran Bontempo

Reckless personNik Wallenda is a praying man.

It’s a good thing, too, as the aerial artist has a tendency to do things that appear to require some serious divine intervention.

Last summer, Wallenda walked a tightrope over Niagara Falls, a distance of 1800 feet, at 200 feet above the churning Niagara River. Sunday night, the daredevil (or mental case, your choice) stepped across the Grand Canyon, a 1400 foot trek, on a 2 inch tightrope, this time with a lot of really sharp rocks 1500 feet below. Both times, the feats were attempted before a television audience of millions.

The entire time Wallenda gingerly crossed each obstacle, he called on God and Jesus to help him.

“Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus. I praise you. You are my King.” And at one point, as the cable vibrated in the air with Wallenda crouching down and hanging onto his 43 pound balancing pole, “Thank you, Lord. Thank you for calming that cable, God.”

I’m guessing Wallenda wasn’t the only one praying, as his parents, wife and children watched him struggle to maintain his balance. In fact, I uttered a few “Dear Jesus”-es myself, holding my breath as I watched the acrobat sway above the canyon.

As I listened to Wallenda’s unending invocation of Jesus’ name–unending until he neared the end of his walk when he then thanked the Discovery Channel for broadcasting his particular brand of insanity, that is–I had to wonder: What was Jesus thinking during all of this?

Talk about pressure. Although I imagine Jesus appreciated the shout-outs, Nik pretty much backed the Big Guy into a corner. I mean, even though Wallenda’s undertaking was catastrophically stupid, how could Jesus let him fall after being called on around 150 times to save the fool in front of millions of people?

I could almost hear Jesus yelling.

“Really, Nik? Really? You string a two inch piece of floss across the Grand Canyon–THE GRAND CANYON!!!–decide to walk across it with no safety harness and you ask me to save your sorry butt knowing millions of people are watching? How am I supposed to say “NO” to that? You do know that you deserved to fall on your colossally stupid head, don’t you? I mean, God and I created the Grand Canyon to inspire awe. You’re supposed to look out at it and think, ‘Lord, that’s a long way down,’ and then step back from the edge, not, ‘Hey, that’s only a drop of around a mile or so; I think I’ll walk across it.’

“And what about the other people who hadn’t gotten into trouble through their own idiocy but needed a hand while you were prancing around on a high wire, huh? What was I supposed to do about them while you were calling my name over and over and over? I couldn’t even hear anybody else! I am so over this nonsense I can’t even tell you!”

I’m with Jesus on this one. Sure watching a death-defying stunt is exciting. But how many times do you tempt fate–and Jesus–before you call it a day and take up gardening or something?

Wallenda said on Sunday night that for his next challenge, he hopes to walk across a rope strung between two skyscrapers in New York City. Before he does, though, he might want to take up Buddhism, or become a Muslim or something.

Next time, I’m not so sure Jesus will want to hear it.

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