During the week, I ventured with Caleb (our two-year-old) out to the back yard to begin pruning the roses. The back yard was awash, making the task of crossing the back lawn a torrid and muddy affair. What passed as a vegetable garden in summer was far worse. I set to pruning, and let Caleb wander around exploring. Occasionally I heard the cry "Daddy," and looked to see what Caleb was doing. On three consecutive occasions he was standing in the same place, not looking overly interested in what he was doing. It turned out that he had sunk into the mud and his gum boot was stuck. He wanted to be free!
How easy it can be to interact with people and not hear their calls for help. We can take their conversation to be normal and friendly, or observe from a safe distance, thinking that all is right with their world. In reality, few of us know how to ask for help: we are brought up to be self-sufficient, or at least not to look too weak! And yet at the same time we do not people intruding into our space. There are times when we are happy to be left alone and struggle with personal issues. How do we find the balance??
This is one of the
greatest challenges of community: to recognise one another's cries for
pain, but knowing when to step in to help and when not to intrude.
We have all made mistakes in this one way or another, but we cannot give
up on expressing our care.
We are called to walk a fine line, and to walk it together: a walk in which we care for one another, without smothering or intruding.
July 23, 1995