Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Hand in Hand

When I was a child, my sister and I often played in the nearby creek that ran under the road down from my gram's house in the country. We fancied ourselves fishermen, squatting on the shallow banks and swooping empty tin cans through the icy cold water, hoping to come up with a few minnows. Or we'd patiently watch for crayfish to poke their scary little pinchers out of their muddy homes and try to dig them up and fling them into the same tin cans. Oh yes, we were the fearless ones, steadying each other as we stepped, hopscotch-fashion, over the smooth stones, headed for the deeper waters and hopefully better fishing. Proud little adventurers in the great outdoors.

Yes, we were mostly fearless - except for the time my sister almost fell headlong into the creek. We were sprawled on the side of the road, dipping our "fishing poles" (tin cans on strings) into the water below. Somehow my sister slipped on the gravel and almost fell into the creek. Somehow I managed to grab her and keep her in the land of the living. Not that the creek was more than a seven or eight foot drop but to a little kid, it must have seemed like Niagara Falls. For days she retold the story of how I saved her life.

Isn't life a bit like playing in that creek? At times, we are the unsteady ones, trying to figure out the next best step. And then we are the steady ones, reaching back to help another traveler navigate where we've already been. Sometimes we are the stumbling ones, taking an unexpected tumble when life throws it's curves. Other times we are the more sure-footed ones, there to lend a rescuing hand. And this reaching forward and reaching back connects us all in a unique way, not unlike the silly chains of paper dolls we used to cut out as kids.

Hand in hand - isn't it the only way to go through life?