Catch a Falling Rock

A meteorite is a hot rock from space. Well it’s not hot until it meets the friction of our outer atmospheric rim. But when it falls you notice. Seen for hundreds of miles. A cold rock from good ole terra firma? Unless you are in its path, you’re unlikely to notice.

Over a year ago, Susan and I noticed. We were walking back to our car from Fox Hunters Paradise.

Fox Hunters Paradise Walkway

His name was Peter. He looked old. After hearing his story I wondered how long since he hadn’t looked old. I could tell his body had been on some thing. Not recently. But habitually. Some fuel that shoots you rocket like to the moon but burns out way, way before you reach the inescapable bliss of zero gravity. And eats out your teeth.

He was sitting on the guardrail with his eyes fixed on Lowgap below, when I decided to say hello.

He was unsteady. But talkative. And smart. He told me he ran a successful business once. Long ago. And that he still had money. [Translation: I’m not looking for a handout.].

Our Meeting Place

Let me change the image. Some people are born with a hole in their bucket. Others given buckets with no bottom. Some punch out their own holes. Hearing him talk so freely about his former life, Peter struck me as the latter. And by the look of his car, he was about drained out. Scarred from headlight to tail-light on the passenger side. Thank God for Parkway guardrails.

After telling me his prostitute girlfriend took him for thousands of dollars, I wondered if she had been a passenger on the day he rode the rail. I didn’t ask.

Guardrail Catcher

The hard truth? The evil gods of this world had not conspired against Peter. They consorted, cooperated with him on his downward descent. He wanted to believe their rocket fuel lies. An exhilarating ride had expanded expectations. But at bottom it burned him up and out.

One song writer thinking of the original couple put it like this:

They had the sun by day.

The moon by night.

Feet of clay, and an inner light.

They had everything. It was meant for their good.

But they threw it away.

They threw it away.

Did this accurately describe Peter? Hard to say for certain. He had brains and a good education. I think it did.

He mentioned a support group near Winston-Salem. Good Christian people. And how he’d come up the mountain to hear from God.

I seized the moment and said: “God doesn’t want you to commit suicide, Peter.” He kept looking out toward Lowgap. But his look wavered and I got the impression I surprised him.

“My wife and I noticed your car,” I explained.

“Oh yea, that obvious?”

“You are a Christian, right?”

“Yes,” he said.

“Then you should know, Death is not our friend, but our enemy. The last enemy to be destroyed,” said St. Paul (1 Cor 15:25-26)1Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.. He nodded, still looking down at Lowgap.

“My wife has been fighting stage four cancer five years now. Do you think God would be happy with us if we cooperated with the enemy, colluded with Death? We fight it!” [Right now Peter needed straight-talk, not empathy]

“You should go back to the support group at that Church. And hang out for a long time. Even if it means you never see your ‘girlfriend’ again. You can’t help her anymore. And she certainly doesn’t help you. You will pray she gets help. But it can’t be you.”

“I, I guess I just need to hear from God about what to do,” he said.

“You just did.”

It had been a while, but he took his eyes off Lowgap and glanced my way. After about 3 slow beats, he nodded again. I shook his hand and promised Susan and I would pray for him.

On a clear day you could see Winston-Salem from where Peter was sitting. But that day was just too cloudy. I don’t know if he saw his way back to the Winston-Salem support group.

I’ve often wondered about the long road of recovery he needed to travel. My hope is he stayed between the guardrails and got safely off the mountain.


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