Growing up in Louisa – Temptations
Weekly feature . . . by Mike Coburn
There was nothing unusual about it but somehow I still remember the sounds, smells, and romance of the place. It was summer and water spilled over the rocks making those little gurgling noises. I directed my attention to the swift churning of the deep pool just below and tried to make out if any fish were hiding in the swirls. There was a cool dampness in the air as if I was breathing in a refreshing new dose of life, or maybe instead, something sinister and threatening. Was it an outside lure that brought me to this spot?
I could see the bottom of the pool, but judging its depth from my vantage point was hazardous because I knew by instinct that everything would seem closer than it was. Should I draw toward the water, reach out and discover it was over my head? Well, perhaps a little closer, I thought as I scooted across the face of a large boulder. Unfortunately I didn’t notice the wet moss, and was therefore unwittingly at the very margins of personal safety. Just a little closer and I can reach the water. Ignoring the warning thoughts my brain was sending my hold was began to slip. I had already shifted my body weight toward the prize when I finally knew I was in danger.
Now, seeing my error I turned to grasp at the crevasses between the rocks. “Oh, save me,” I shouted, but no one was near. This was a private explore I’d taken, wanting to be alone and think through the problems of life. Now these things were dwarfed by an urgency of greater importance. Oh, how my fingers burned as they dug to the smallest of crevices, only to tear lose some gravel and lose my grip. Could I hang on, or will I slide into the cold water and perhaps breathe my last? Will God somehow save me?
Kerplunk! I had my answer. Drawn like the moth to the candle, only to burn and fall into the melting wax, I had gone too far and was trapped in a place that was at the same time, both romantic and deadly.
What is important in this story is not whether I survived, although the wisest among you will have already figured that out, but instead what I have learned from the experience once given another chance to live. I saw that a pool of water can both support life and take it.
In my subsequent living I have discovered again and again, that those things that appear to answer my immediate need, or perhaps my curiosity, actually bring new complications and exposes me as a slow learner. In spite of my foolishness. In the language of old country the song “Oh Death,” from the movie “Brother, Where Art Thou,” death saved me over for another day. The mistakes I’ve made has brought sorrow, pain, and disappointment and have truly endangered not only my life, but affected the lives of others. In the end, what else is there to do but to try again in hope of restoring good and expressing my sorrow for my failures?
When I was in college and studied classical tragedies, I first thought as the professor suggested, that to be a tragedy the protagonist must not only have a weakness, but have high station, else the fall from grace would be meaningless. In my old age I see this differently. You see, I think we all have our weaknesses and we all fail in some manner. It is tragic regardless who we are. Those mistakes also affect others to one degree or another, which may be the greater of wrongs.
So as we struggle against ourselves to right the mistakes, and to avoid new ones, we begin to understand the risks, or the mossy slopes, if you will. How sad when a son or daughter slips into the pool. We may have endured our temptations, but the hurt of seeing others we love fall into the same traps is difficult. When, indeed, will we learn?
A daily reading of Proverbs tells us what we should have all known, whether by instinct, or by examples in everyday life. It is good reading and should not be threatening even to the non-believer. We read about the temptations, see examples of good and evil, and are guided by just plain old good advice. Since there are thirty-one chapters of the book, a chapter a day should make us wiser, or at least aware of life’s pitfalls and the consequences that will surely follow.
The other lesson? When you see yourself as failing to rise to the mark, you will learn to have sympathy for others. As older folks we are often able to see what likely lies ahead for the youth, but they are rarely interested in our old fashioned opinions. We can see the slippery slope but they don’t want to hear it. So shall we become louder, or shall we give them the grace to make their own mistakes? I believe the Almighty has granted me plenty of room to error and consequently have erred many times. What then shall we do? The prime example is to love, in spite of our aching hearts. Love them and show mercy, for we have been shown mercy.
Thinking back I have to admit I don’t remember where the creek was. I suppose it might have been Lick Creek, or Blaine, or Bear Creek, or some other waterway, but I’ve seen many more since. There have been a lot of figurative creeks, all enticing me toward the edge of one abyss or another, and my life has the scars that come with making bad decisions. Overall, life has been kind to me, regardless. The pool in my case wasn’t too deep, yet it took my breath away and hurt my soul.
The lesson still being learned seems to be that we should love, be kind and watch out for the slippery slopes in life that are bound to come. To survive them we must purpose to flee and never turn back.
PS: For those that like murder mysteries I now have two books out on Amazon. You can download them on your tablet, Kindle, laptop or desktop. There’s a way to borrow it for free, or you can chose a very low cost and keep it. I’m editing the third in the series right now and have several others ready to post.
Book One: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00M0TSZDI
Book Two: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00N669XLW