Not About You?

July 15th, 2008

Old abandoned wellOk, so maybe the hopelessness isn’t something directly focused at you. Maybe it’s a loved one you’re concerned about and the struggles they’re dealing with. It might be as plain-as-the-nose-on-your-face and they just can’t seem to get a grip on any help you are trying to offer them. You are the one, reaching into the darkness with your hand outstretched, but touching nothing. You call, but no one answers. You grope and feel but there’s only emptiness.

On our farm we have this old well. When I was a child we had a working hand pump situated atop the opening and we would draw water out for the garden, flowers or whatever the need was. Eventually, the old pump wore out and rather than replace it mom and dad chose to forgo the nostalgia of it and simply removed it and placed a huge flat rock, maybe three feet across, over top of it. That thing weighed a ton!

Curiosity reigned very strongly in my young mind and I always imagined all sorts of creepy crawly things down that hole. I’d tried countless times throughout the years to move that stone but it just wouldn’t budge. I tried with all my might, pushing at it from every possible angle, but couldn’t move it an inch. It retained it’s mysteries and I retained my buggy, creepy hopes of what lay below.

I’ve since grown up and one day I was able to move that rock. Who knows if it was before or after years spent abroad, but I saw into it. Ever look down a well? Ever try to see into a place where there’s nothing after a few feet? Nothing for the light to reflect off of? Well what do you do? Of Course! You throw something in! We listen for the tell tale sound of a splash or a thud as it hits bottom, wet or dry. We want to know what’s down there. At least I did.

I imagine that reaching into the darkness for a friend is much like that old stone walled well with the rock on top. I’ve got a friend, and maybe you do too, who’s in that well. For several years now my thoughts have been on his life and him and finally after so much pushing and shoving, sweating, praying, hoping and believing, ….. the rock that capped the secrets to his life moved. I’m laying on top of that well right now in my mind, reaching into that dark place, hoping he’ll reach back.

I don’t have to wonder if there are creepy crawly things in there. I don’t have to dream up things that go bump in the night. They’re there. They’re real and so much so that he hides in the depths of that well, occasionally acknowledging my presence, but too afraid to reach back. Why can’t my reach be farther? Why can’t I say the right thing to coax him out or at least into reaching back? Why won’t he grab onto the hope I’m trying to offer? Why won’t he save himself?

My friend is addicted to substances and I’m afraid. We had been meeting every other week and talking and simply enjoying each others company. We ask each other hard questions and demand honest answers. Accountability is at work. This is a man whom I have come to feel like a brother with. Never having any of my own it’s a special gift I cherish. But within the past three weeks he suddenly went missing. I had no idea what happened to him.

The first unanswered calls to his cell phone didn’t really concern me. Dead battery; No signal; turned off; these were all possibilities. But one day stretched into two. Two stretched into four and soon a week had gone by. Now I’m really worried.

My prayers seemed to go unanswered but I pressed on, reaching and hoping. I left messages and went by his house feeling that quite possibly he had relapsed but I had no way of knowing for sure. I went by his house but found no one home. It’s like he fell off the face of the earth. Gone.

Eventually I found myself thinking about him more and more and during the third week, right after church I drove to his house and rang the door bell. My heart was racing. I had no idea what answer I’d get from whoever answered the door. It was very difficult standing there waiting as I heard footsteps approaching. You know the sound of a cheap door knob before it engages? Well for all I know that sound could have been my heart jumping out of gear as the door swung open.

“Ain’t seen him in about three weeks. Just didn’t show back up one day.” Oh no, I thought. Probing for answers, I finally learned that about two weeks ago his parents had dropped off his rent money. Good News for sure. I raced home, looked up their information, angry with myself for not trying this sooner, and dialed the phone. Answering machine. For once I was glad I at least got a machine and not the lifeless ring of an unanswered phone.

I left my message asking for a call back and sat down to eat. During the meal I think some form of relief swept over me and I suddenly could no longer hold back the tears. They seemed to flow out, defiant of every restraint I put on them and it felt, well, right somehow. I still didn’t know what happened to him but something was moving. Some positive piece was found to this puzzle and I nudged the rock a little farther back. I needed to see in.

A few hours later my phone rang and I was so happy to hear the voice of my friends father on the other end. He laid out the story of another relapse and honestly, all I heard for sure was that he was OK. He’s alive. Because to tell you the truth, I feared the worst. But I was hoping for something better.

He’s safe and recovering and I’ll just lay atop this well and continue to reach into the blackness of the well till one day he reaches back. My friend may feel like he’s a hopeless case, but I’m going to hope for him. I believe in him. He’s a good man and he’s my friend.

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2 Responses

  1. The Friend. Says:

    The hand is coming back. The hand is scared but won’t show it. The hand is tentative because it doesn’t want to hurt people anymore. The hand is happy that it’s in a dark well so no one can see its shame. But, the hand is there and hopefully it will continue to reach until it decides that it is ok to reach out and ask for help. This is the hand’s strength and hopefully it will believe that someday soon.

  2. Lori Says:

    I’m not that much of a online reader to be honest but your blogs really nice, keep it up!
    I’ll go ahead and bookmark your site to come back in the future.
    Many thanks

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