Monday, April 27, 2009

Living on the Edge

Things have been very quiet and rather humdrum at our house for some time.  A number of years ago our youngest daughter Jackie said to her mother, "If dad were "normal" like everyone else life would be so boring!"

Well, last week I decided to bring a little excitement back into our lives.  Our three married daughters, a daughter-in-law, and eight of our sixteen grandchildren came to our home in Tustin and Jo Anne and I went with them to a nice park for a picnic.  We had Subway sandwiches, cookies and chips and root beer -- life just doesn't get much better than that!

The sun was shining brightly but it was cold and I had a black poncho on to protect me from the chill in the air.  As long as I faced the sun, I was warm and happy, much like a toad sitting on a hot rock out in the desert.

Facing the way I was; however, I couldn't see the kids playing on the playground equipment and so I decided to re-position myself, even though it meant turning my face away from my friend, "Mr. Sun."

My eyesight isn't very good and as I turned toward the playground area it looked to me like there was no drop-off or barrier between the sidewalk I was on and the playground area.  To my surprise, there was a drop-off from the sidewalk to the sandy area where the kids were playing.  I hit it at such an angle that my wheelchair began to tip over on its left side, of course with me in it.  I resembled a pregnant elephant that not very gracefully, had to lie down on her side rather quickly.  If you were to assign style points to my tipping over, on a scale from zero to 10, you may have given me a one, but that would have been generous.

Two of the girls saw me literally "bite the [dust] sand" and their screams would have raised the dead.  Jo Anne, from her vantage point, could only see a big black blob lying in the sand and then was able to make out my features and realized the black blob was me.

When my face was finally settled into the sand and I realized I was still breathing, any panic I had quickly disappeared.  I have always said "If you can just breathe, everything else in life is pretty much just icing on the cake."

Well, there I was, at least 450 pounds of dead weight -- I hate to say that but it's true -- lying on my side in the sand.  Jo Anne, always practical, felt there was no way they could get me up so she commenced to dial 911.  My daughters, daughter in law, some of the bigger grandkids, and three or four moms that were at the park with their kids tried to push me and the chair upright.  Their first effort was unsuccessful but the second effort, spurred on by massive doses of adrenaline now pumping through their bodies, was very successful as these women got that chair with me in it upright and out of the sand.  Whoever said women are the "weaker sex" should have been at the park that day to realize how false that statement really is.

And so, I made my contribution to the picnic by turning it into a very exciting and memorable event.  Who said I wasn't good for anything? I must admit being a bit offended at being called a "black blob" by my wife, but it was an apt description.

I can't tell you how many times I have driven up to the "edge" of a drop-off in my wheelchair only to be miraculously stopped before tipping off onto my face.  I know I can't see well and have promised Jo Anne to stay as far away from the edge of the sidewalk as I can, and to never drive anywhere without somebody walking in front to show me the safe way. 

Because of our agency, if we choose to do so, we can live our lives on the very edge of physical or spiritual disaster.  One false move and we are over the edge and must suffer the consequences of our actions.  How wise it is to stay away from the edge of physical or spiritual disaster following those who know the "safe way."

And what if we do plunge off the edge; is all lost?  I don't think so!  David teetered on the edge of spiritual disaster and then plunged off into an abyss of misery.  I have often wondered when David quit reading his scriptures and praying regularly.  As he quit doing these things he got too close to the edge and invited disaster into his life.  However, even David's disaster taught him a great lesson about the love of the Savior in his life.  "I waited patiently for the Lord and he inclined unto me and heard my cry.  And he has also brought me up out of an horrible pit, out of the mire in clay, and has set my feet on a rock and has put a new song in my mouth."  [Psalms 40:1-3]