My husband and I were standing at our living room window, watching a man walking down the distant road. The man lived nearby in a broken down house. Every day he walked two miles to a neighborhood bar where he spent his time.
“Night fell, and darkness hid the two from sight”
He worked at walking.
Stumbling, weaving, tumbling, falling…and
Each night at dusk he headed home, deaf to traffic sounds.
Sometimes reeling into a roadside ditch, he would lie upon the ground in bleak half-conscious stupor.
With effort, he would crawl laboriously to the ditch’s edge, then work at walking once again.
The man continued through his nightly ritual.
Someone approached the sodden hulk and bending down, they knelt beside the fallen man. With steady arms, they began the rescue.
The person was not a hero. And I was a bystander. Though years have passed, the vivid scene remains.
Whose life is changed when a journey reaches a crossroad? When is a path interrupted by a chance encounter? Could it be the rescuer? Perhaps it was a friend? Maybe it was me as I watched this scene unfold.
What are you thinking now?
Night fell and darkness hid the two from my sight.
THE RESCUE had begun.
* * * * * * * *
Many years have passed since this incident took place.
While my husband and I were standing at our living room window, we saw a man walking along the distant road.
The man lived nearby in a broken down house.
And each day he walked two miles
to a neighborhood bar
where he spent the entire day.
We didn’t usually see him traveling on the morning journey to his destination. Nor did we see him when he was going home at the end of the day.
But this time
we saw him walking toward home. As we watched, he staggered and stumbled, falling into the deep ditch beside the road.
For moments he was out of our sight. Then, we saw him crawling out of the ditch and struggling to his feet. Walking a few steps, he fell once more. Again, he crawled up the side of the ditch on his hands and knees
and attempted to stand.
I became aware my husband had left my side. Now, in his truck, he was driving down our driveway toward the distant road.
He stopped at the place where the man was lying beside the ditch. Getting out of his truck, he approached the figure.
Taking him by the arm,
he helped the man to his feet.
My husband later told me he intended to help him into the cab of the truck, but the man protested.
“I’m not clean enough to sit in your truck. Help me into the back. I’ll ride home there.”
As I watched this scene unfold before my eyes, I was surely not aware it would be in my memory and my heart many years later.
How many of us, including me, would leave the comfort of our own home to help a drunken, smelly man get safely to his home?
This was a view of my husband about which I wasn’t aware. Yes, he was kind, gentle and caring.
The scene I watched was more than that.
The experience changed me and maybe it has changed you.
At this stage of life it has become clear to me that we all need to be rescued.
Our Friend is on His way.
In later years, as we discussed the incident some facts revealed themselves about the man who was rescued.
He was a veteran from World War 2.
As years have passed, we’ve become aware of the experiences our soldiers endured during that time of war.
They were too horrible to remember for many of the soldiers.
We now call it PTSD.
It has been found, for some of the veterans, it is easier to drink away the memories
than to relive them in their minds.
In our village, there were three World War 2 veterans who spent their days at the same local bar.
The world called them drunks. Should we call them heroes?
How do you feel about it?