I was only six at the time vividly remembering sitting in the crouch position on top of the barn, my brother at the bottom saying, ‘come on jump already, just jump, tuck, and roll!’ Fifty years later I’m laying on the ground being thankful I remembered that dumb idea, but great advice.
We were playing a game of team hide and seek, with the big boys. My brother let me tag along and he found the best hiding place, up on the roof of our friends barn. It was easy climbing up, at least for my brother who hopped on a garbage can (back when they were metal) and scaled up the gutter the last few feet. I too climbed on the rusty can but needed an arm pull to get all the way on the roof. We watched and laughed as everyone ran by looking for us as we watched them like ants scurrying around trying to find us.
The greatest hiding place in the world was ours to share and the olly-olly-in-come-frees were being shouted. Dave said ‘we can’t let them know where we were hiding, as soon as they run around the corner we have to go’. The next thing I knew he jumped off the barn, hit the ground, rolled and sprung to his feet and ran behind a tree. He yelled with a whisper to me to follow. I froze.
The barn seemed like it was 200 feet high. I just couldn’t jump. He pleaded, you have to come down now. I asked if there was another way, he said no. There wasn’t, other than to give up our spot, and go borrow a ladder,, Or call the fire department,, both of which were out of the question to my brother.
Finally after what seemed like an eternity I crouched to make the jump shorter and plunged to the ground. My feet hit first, thankfully, but putting together the tuck and roll was another story. My legs felt like jelly as they buckled and the pain shot through my tail bone, up the spine, up to the neck, and up through my ears. Ow, ow, I said as I stood up feeling like my backside was an accordion letting out a longgg note.
‘I told you to tuck and roll you numskull’. I said I tried, it didn’t work. ‘You didn’t do it right, but you’ll live, let’s get out of here before they find our hiding spot’. We ran back to the post and everyone wanted to know where we were, we laughed and didn’t dare give up the info. For Dave, he used that spot many times thereafter, for me, I didn’t want to get anywhere near a roof thereafter.
So, last week I am cutting some limbs and had several that had to come down. Although afraid of jumping off of a barn, ladders always seem safe to me as I had painted my way through college learning to use a ladder along the way.
I leaned the ladder against a tree and trimmed several branches with no problem. Moving along the fence line I was able to clip branch after branch with ease. There were a few more higher up that needed to come down as well. After each clip I raised the rungs on the ladder a few notch each time. The system was working great and I was down to one last branch and the job would be finished.
I examined the ladder leaning against the tree and knew it would be no problem to take two more steps up to get the last oak branch. I snipped the first nibble of the branch and it did not plop to the ground like the others. I wiggled the clippers free and re-positioned them to get the last snip. I snapped the claws and the branch made a nice clean cut and it started heading down to the ground and it hit the top of the fence with a thud and fell to the woods side of the fence. I mused that this landing would save me one step from having to pick it up and toss it over the fence.
As I stepped down from the 16′ height just one step on the ladder to make my way down there was a sudden loud CRACK as the tree that the ladder was leaning against gave way. The ladder and the tree in unison began falling quickly forward. Flashes of ambulance lights went through my mind quickly with thoughts of broken bones and even, ‘this is it’, my life is going to end falling from a ladder. Why would you think this was a good idea? Did those branches really need to be clipped off today?
Reacting in split seconds I knew hanging on to the ladder would be a bad idea (I did that once in the college days and although surviving, when the ladder hit the ground it crushed my fingers). I tossed the clippers to the left and jumped to the right. Mid air I looked down to see the fence line and had flashes of doing the splits in a place that would not be pleasant. Somehow I landed both feet on the top of the wooden fence with my Crocs, (yes, what an idiot, why didn’t I put on shoes for this task?), the rubber of the Crocs provided a soft and rubbery bounce.
I twisted and turned after the bounce and looked to the ground. Seemingly in slow motion I jumped to the grass, hit the ground and slowly tucked and rolled. I popped up after going head over heels and ended up on my feet standing. I heard the ladder and tree smash to the ground at the same moment. I felt around my whole body to see if anything was broken. I touched the top of my head looking for blood. No broken bones, no blood, no scrapes.
Only two days later did I find the little bruise on my knee.
All I could think and say was, Thank you God for letting me live another day!
Psalm 18:2 The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety.
I know very easily I could be not writing a thing right now and be six feet under instead. Sometimes I think God keeps me around because I am needed for this or that, for instance the reason I was cutting those branches was in preparation of a church sponsored bon-fire we were hosting. I thought, God needed to keep me alive because of all the good things I am doing. In the words of Donald Trump, ‘Wrong’.
He has me alive because He enjoys the relationship with me (us). ‘For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus.’ What a great thought to think about that just like I protect my own children, whom I have been fortunate enough to have, God protects me just because I am one of His kids.
I had previously written about other moments of reflection about ‘lucky’ moments or things that could of happened, but did not. Here is one of several in a series, check it out when you have one of those times where you are feeling not so lucky. Our world is filled with headlines of people complaining about how awful their lives are, maybe if we all stopped and thought for a moment about all we have to be thankful for and talk about those, the perspective would be much different.