Out of focus

This morning, I was reading an article about a guy named David Snider. David was on a multi-day backpacking trip in Washington. Something he had done many times. Only on this occasion, David slipped, and his absolute worst nightmare unfolded before him.

His glasses fell off.

David – we learn a sentence or two later in the detailed account of his harrowing trip – is blind as a bat three inches from his face. His world dissolves into a fuzzy kaleidoscope of colors and shapes so indiscernible as to resemble blobs in a lava lamp.

Snider later describes doing the worst thing possible – moving forward alone, away from where he had fallen. Completely isolated and detached from the visible world, he takes step after step after step moving miles from the area search parties knew to look for him, isolated. Snider writes – what was even worse,  was that he was moving to areas that search parties with helicopters had already swept, in areas and search grids where no one would be looking to rescue him.

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We lose “our glasses”, periodically in life. If we’re honest in our personal assesments, these are the times in our life when things aren’t quite going our way. We “fall” like David fell. Or, we’re pushed – and lose all perspective and panoramic viewpoints. Rather than staying still, we move…”helping ourselves”, which is usually the worst thing to do when you’re lost. Physically, or metaphorically.  (Point of fact: David had told his girlfriend where he would be, and to call park officials if he hadn’t checked in the night he lost his glasses. Help was only 24 hours away from the missed phone call).

When that happens – when we move (instead of “Peace, be still”) we isolate ourselves from trusted friends and family. People who know us and bring perspective to our situations, acting like lenses for us when we drop our glasses. Sometimes those people bring a word of encouragement. Sometimes, a word of correction.

Biblically, there’s rarely an instance of correction where the friend who brings perspective isn’t shunned or punished. Nearly every prophet in the Old and New Testament bear witness to this inversion of human behavior. There are places however – glimmers of reason, where the opposite occurs. King David, on exiting the city with his troops comes across a member of the former King’s family…a guy who is throwing rocks and dirt clods at the King and his men, hurling insults at them with each bombing run. David stops his soldiers and says, essentially, “I’m going to listen to what he has to say…even if I don’t like it”. (2Sam16).

Imagine if a hiker had found David while he was stumbling around in the wilderness. Imagine that they said, “Hey – I can help you get out of here. I can see exactly what’s happened here, and I can help lead you out.”. All too often this happens in our parallel “real world”. But instead of locking arms with the person who can see – we push the person who can save us aside…opting instead to fumble, in the dark, through the thorns – further and farther from the choppers.

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I read an article that mirrored this phenomenon the other day. Eric Snowden – the man who shared with the world how the United States N.S.A. was spying on millions of Americans without a warrant – was asked if he regretted what he’d done. In the article, he confessed that he’d watched for years as the administrations he served did the exact opposite of what they were professing publicly. And that he’d reached a point where he’d realized if someone didn’t say something, things were going to get worse…irreversibly so.

Now, nearly a year later – you’d be hard pressed to find many Americans who care about what Snowden uncovered. Life goes on, the abuses still in place – those who committed them still in power, with the “lens”, the “helpful hiker”  – now the villain. We know that the C.I.A. can listen through the microphones of any cell phone – even when they are turned off – but Snowden sits in Russia – vilified, blocked, and isolated from the people he was trying to protect.

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There’s a thing you learn in Boy Scouts when you take the Swimming merit badge. When you save someone whose drowning…you never approach from the front. 9 times out of 10, the person you’re trying to save – the person whose dying, will drown the person who can swim…who can save them. Who is calm – outside the emergency, and who has perspective. Who recognizes standing on the shore or dock, and watching idly by, isn’t an option. You’re taught to get behind the person – lock their arms behind their head, and drag them to shore. (There’s a biblical premise for this phenomenon, actually. )

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I guess I take a few things away from this.

First – the reminder that when I am lost – have lost my way –  I can rely on the people in my life for perspective. People I trusted before the calamity befell me. I’m reminded that those words can come in the form of encouragement – but can also come in the form of correction. That a very wise man once said, “It is better to heed the rebuke of a wise person than to listen to the song of fools.” Sometimes – dirt clods are care packages I need to open.

Second, I’m taking personal stock and asking what kind of person am I? Can I sit on the dock and watch someone drown? Or will I risk being drowned in an effort to save someone who can only see the surface of the water. Someone who doesn’t realize that the bottom is only inches under their feet? Recognizing that once my toes hit the water – there’s likely no parade or trophy coming…realizing that invariably, the life guard is the bad guy in the real world.

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2 Responses to Out of focus

  1. “A monk was lost in the forest, stumbled upon a root, and fell flat on his face on the ground. He began to laugh because he had known where he had been the whole time”.

  2. mlydick1 says:

    If a monk falls in the forest, and no one hears it – did he really fall? 🙂

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