Tom is walking down the street and, without warning, falls into a deep, narrow hole. He cannot get out. A doctor comes along, sees Tom in the hole and writes out a prescription which drops it down. Then, a minister comes along and writes a prayer and drops it in. Finally, an old friend comes along and immediately jumps into the hole.
Tom exclaims, "Why did you do that?! Now we are both stuck."
"Yes, but I have been down here before and I know how to get out."
The tale made me gasp, saying so much about life’s vicissitudes, empathy and friendship. It is the holiday season and while this story could be applied year round, it has particular resonance now. I can also almost guarantee that in the coming weeks we will see an article on the emotional perils of the Christmas season. For troubled, lonely people there is always the possibility of some good samaritan coming along to offer comfort (letter tributes to acts are newspaper regulars, though they are more likely to be about a car breakdown than an emotional breakdown). But, no, it is mostly for friends or relatives to come through for us when we’re alone. We should always be on alert.
Some insights from Mr. Gordon Lightfoot: "Rainy day people always seem to know when its time to call….they have been down there too/High steeping strutters who land in the gutters sometimes need one too."