Saturday, December 13, 2008

Only Three Feet. . .


The photo above is of Pipewort Pond, a little wildlife refuge a few miles from my home, where my dog and I frequently go hiking. (Actually the butterfly picture, currently at the head of my blog was taken on the shore of the pond, in a button bush  at the right side of the above picture.) This is a picture from last February.  We went out a couple of days ago and it looked similar to what you see above, but there was not as much snow covering the ice of the pond.

You can see plants growing up through the ice all over the pond.  It is a seasonal body of water.  Two years ago, even without ice, I was able to walk pretty much everywhere I wanted.  The open water was confined to an area maybe the size of a backyard swimming pool, but this past year has been much wetter and there is a good area of water several acres in size, now frozen, but in any respect it is not at all deep, maybe at the deepest spot a mere three feet in depth.

Also in these last few days I am writing a Bible study to work through with the inmates at the local jail, in which I am a volunteer chaplain.  To lay the foundation of this study I am beginning with talking about how we are all by nature sinful creatures.  Surely the men and women, that this little study I am writing is addressed to are incarcerated for crimes committed or awaiting trial for crimes they are accused of, but they are not by any means the only ones in our society whom have a problem with sin.

Sin makes people do such crazy crazy things.  Over the past months here in the United States we have had goveners of two of our most populous states: New York and Illinois  get themselves entangled in situations which, at the minimum have the potential to destroy their careers.  For anyone looking from the outside in, it is on the surface of it impossible to understand how such intelligent, active, powerful. . . capable men could be so stupid and place everything they had worked so hard to achieve at risk.

I don't know that either one of these men have yet been convicted of a crime, but even to allow yourself to get as close to such situations as they are accused of, represents a complete failure of their good sense, but these things. . .for these men. . .for all men. . . always start out small.

We rationalize.  We justifiy.  We never believe that we will get caught.  When I was drinking, how many times did I get behind the wheel when I had had too much to drink.  Always believing, and fortunately for me, always getting away with what I thought was a very tiny chance of getting caught, but people do get caught all the time.

Open the paper. . . the headlines scream the bloody news of someone having consumed a few too many beers and then causing an accident resulting in someone's death.  Regardless of the outcome of any trial, their lives are forever changed.  They awake as star players in a never ending nightmare for the sake of a couple of beers.  Think of the horrid ache in the bottom of your stomach. . . think of the fear. . . think of the anguish. . . the horror as you sit amidst the broken glass. . .as you harvest the fruit of your sin and the reality of what you have done begins to break upon you.

It was such a small thing. . . only a couple of beers. . . only one kiss. . . only one lie. . . only one dollar. . .only one toke on the pipe. . .only one lottery ticket. . .only. . . only. . . only. . .How many times did I stop for only one beer. . .hours later. . .I didn't know where I was. . . I didn't know how I got there. . . I didn't know how to get out. . .

I walked upon the pond ice a couple of days ago.  I knew the ice was weak.  We really haven't had the cold weather required, to make good ice, but I knew that at the deepest the water was only maybe three feet deep.  Solomon, my dog, and I had walked for a good while, exploring what are normally inaccessable areas of the pond.  In the woods next to the pond we had discovered deer beds.  I had never seen this before.  They were  kidney shaped areas where the snow had melted as the deer had laid upon the leaves of the forest floor.  We found three of these beds.  From the sizes they looked to be of two adult deer and a fawn.  We looked at muskrat lodges and old goose nests.  At a few points cracks started popping and running under my feet.  I grew very cautious and shuffled very slowly to thicker ice.

I was crossing an area that I really wasn't worried about.  Little plants grew through the ice all around me.  I supposed that meant relatively shallow water, but as I made one step to another, with no warning, I went through. . . with a shock, immediately I was waist deep in water. . . a mere three feet of water.  I was correct in my calculation of the depth, though I had greatly underestimated the magnitude of the fear, the power of the panic that momentarily came over me as the ice gave way beneath me and I fell too quickly even to think into the icy mucky smelly depths.

What parallels there are here.  One moment I was walking along.  Knowing the dangers, but figuring it would never happen to me.  The next breath, I was waist deep in a slimy stinky mess, that in my case ruined the rest of the afternoon. . . thankfully leaving intact the rest of my life. Many have take calculated risks such as this. . . and many have underestimated the power of that risk being born and coming to be. . .

It was only three feet of water. . .a mere three feet. . .

Thank you my God. . .
I love you my Lord. . .

Dave

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