I know this guy, Joe, he’s a bit accident prone. One day while Joe was walking down the street the pavement cracked and he fell into a huge sinkhole. He landed about 15 feet below street level, he was lucky he wasn’t killed. He took a few minutes to mentally check for injuries, and finding none, Joe picked himself up, brushed himself and looked around at the spot he was in. Dirt walls, some cracked and broken pavement and very few means of escape. But Joe was resourceful so he did the only thing he could think of – he tried climbing out.
The problem was the dirt would not hold his weight. It just kept falling back down on him, getting into his eyes and mouth – the dirt walls weren’t solid enough to hold his weight. He changed his strategy several times – a different approach, a new angle, standing on the large shards of pavement, stacking the smaller chunks of broken pavement on top of one another, but to no avail.
After some time had passed Joe realized he was getting nowhere, fast. Cursing and swearing he flopped down on the ground and heaved a sigh. Covered in dirt and sweat, Joe had several cuts to his hands and forearms. The burst of energy he had gained from the adrenaline had long since been used up. Needless to say, Joe was tired, frustrated and very discouraged when he saw someone peaking over the edge of the sinkhole.
His hope rekindled, Joe jumped up and waved his arms in the air. “Hey!” he hollered, “Hey! Down here! I need help.”
“Joe, is that you?” it was Father Dominic from St. Anne’s a man Joe had known his whole life.
“Father, can you help me? I fell down here and I can’t get out.”
The Father looked at his watch, “Oh Joe, I’m so sorry. I can’t right now, I’m late for mass, but I’ll pray for you my son.” After muttering a quick prayer and crossing himself, Father Dominic was gone.
Joe couldn’t believe it. Praying for him was nice and all, and always appreciated, but what he needed was a rope or a ladder. Something a little more practical than saying the rosary. Joe settled back onto the dirt and tried to keep thinking positively. It wasn’t too long before he saw another face peering down over the side of the sinkhole.
He felt a faint stirring of hope and he jumped up and waved his arms in the air. “Hey!” he hollered, “Hey! Down here! I need help.”
“Joe is that you?” It was Reverend Judy from Knox. Joe and Judy had lived on the same street growing up. They used to play together when they were kids, he was confident Judy would be able to help him.
“Judy, can you help me? I fell down here and I can’t get out.”
Judy looked at her watch, “Oh Joe, I’m so sorry. I can’t right now, I’m late for the women’s meeting, but I’ll make sure we pray for you.” Judy jotted a quick note on the pad of paper in her hand, and with that, Judy was gone.
Joe was stunned. How much prayer does one man need to get a ladder? Prayer certainly didn’t hurt, but it wasn’t always that helpful in a practical way. Joe grumbled to himself about church people and settled back onto the dirt. It wasn’t too long before he saw someone else looking down at him.
Joe jumped up, mumbled to himself, “Hope it’s not another prayer person.” and shouted, “Hey! Hey! Down here! I need help!”
“Joe is that you?” It was Mayor Thomas. Alright, thought Joe, a man of action if there ever was one! Joe was getting excited, there would be no promise of prayer this time. Just a ladder, that’s all he needed, a ladder or some rope.
“Mayor Thomas, can you help me? I fell down here and can’t get out.”
The Mayor looked at his watch, “Oh, Joe, I’m so sorry. I can’t right now, I’m late for a council meeting about this very sinkhole. I promise you that something will done immediately if not sooner.” The Mayor keyed a short note on his smart phone and then he, too, was gone.
Joe couldn’t believe it. Three people, people he had always considered dependable, had just walked away and left him to rot in that sinkhole. Joe started hacking at the dirt walls, vowing he would get out of that hole or die trying when another head appeared over the edge. Joe barely glanced up. No point in calling out, nobody up there was going to help him.
The head called down to him, “Joe, is that you?”
“Jimmy?” Jimmy was Joe’s best friend. “Jimmy, man, I could use a little help. Could you get me a ladder or some rope? Anything to get me out of here.”
Jimmy took a moment to survey the sinkhole. “No problem,” said Jimmy and promptly tossed himself into the sinkhole and landed beside Joe.
Joe was dumbfounded.”Jimmy, what kind of fool move was that? Now we’re both stuck down here and there’s no one up there to get a ladder.” Joe could have slugged him.
Jimmy smiled and clapped a hand on Joe’s shoulder, “No problem, man. I’ve been here before. I know the way out.”
Moral of the story – Sometimes what you really need to help you is experience over expertise. Check out Parents for Children’s Mental Health – not just for parents but for all people who believe that children’s mental health matters!