A MOMENT TO REFLECT

22 July 2020

A Moment to Reflect -68

THOSE WHO LIVE BY THE SWORD

I’m going to break one of my own rules today …well, every so often you have to live dangerously, don’t you? (The rule in question has to do with my decision when I started these reflections only to use photographs that I had taken myself. Unfortunately, having embarked upon a series of ‘true stories from my childhood’ I wasn’t able to find any photograph of mine appropriate for today’s episode.)

Talking of danger …sometimes when I look back, I wonder how I managed to survive my childhood!

I described previously how the tenement in which I was born backed on to a high cliff, which had once been a quarry. I used to love scrambling over the large boulders that remained at the foot of the quarry—though we were frequently warned not to play there. (My one-year old grandson’s climbing exploits therefore do not surprise me.)

And, of course, there was the waterfall! And the burn, which could at certain times become quite full and fast flowing. We were warned not to play there. I do remember one hot summer day my older sister and I were playing in the burn and we both got soaked and both got sent to bed for the rest of day. (There are few punishments worse than being confined to your bed when it is hot and sunny, and you can hear the voices of other children enjoying themselves outside!)

But the danger area that features most in today’s story was our grandly (and inaccurately) named “veranda.” We lived on the ground floor and the so-called ‘veranda’ outside the kitchen window was actually just the concrete roof of the brick-built “midden.” In case any of my readers are unacquainted with this word, the “midden” was the storage location for the bins. It was also the place where the rats regularly held their midnight feasts (that is when they hadn’t actually managed to get into our house – something that they frequently did manage, until my father nailed sheets of tin to all the skirting boards!)

The midden roof was another place that we weren’t supposed to play on, as it was probably about 5 feet or more above ground (i.e. at least a metre and a half—which is a fair height when you’re only six years old.)

To let you know why on this particular day I had indeed climbed up onto the roof of the midden, you should also know that, since money was scarce, my parents often used to make toys and outfits for us. My mother, for example, once made me a complete “doctor’s outfit (using an old shirt of my father’s) and because I enjoyed wearing that outfit, my mother got it into her head that I wanted to become a doctor when I grew up! (…actually I wanted to be a farmer with a red tractor… but I digress.)

On this particular occasion—whether for Christmas or for my birthday—my mother had made for me a Zorro outfit. Black cape, black mask (which could also double for when I wanted to be the Lone Ranger,) black sombrero cordobés, and (the only purchased item) a black plastic ‘Zorro’ rapier sword.

You know what’s coming next don’t you?

Samuel Duckworth wasn’t even born at that time far less performing under the stage name of “Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly” but as a six year old I must have got it into my head that since I now had the cape and could wear it, I might be able —if not to fly—then at least to leap from a height and land firmly on my feet …exactly as Zorro did. 

So, I jumped!

The cape was useless. Gravity refused to be defied. And my feet hit the ground with an almighty thump followed by a sharp pain shooting up from both heels right up to my hips.

Fortunately, nothing broke but for days afterwards I could scarcely walk.

As someone (I don’t know who) once said, “Always remember you are free to do what you want to do but you are never free from the consequence of your actions. So always choose to do good.”

Or as Suzanne Butler has expressed it in her marvellous children’s song for Fischy Music:

You gave us power to choose what we do

Because puppets on strings 

can’t be true friends with you.

We all have hearts, and a soul and a mind,

So we can be cruel or kind.

God give me strength to change what I can.

Help me believe that I’m part of your plan.

God give me peace when life seems unfair.

Help me to know that your Spirit is there.

Do you understand how we get so confused 

when your beautiful world 

is all battered and bruised?

Life can’t be perfect despite all your care

People are selfish and silly and scared

Help us to use all the love that we feel

So heaven can shine through for real.

© Fischy Music

I wish I had actually learned the lessons from the mistakes of my childhood. I don’t jump off tall buildings -with or without a cape- but sometimes I do forget to look before I leap.

How about you?