“Meet me half way”
Oh how those words have framed my life.
Some people seem to have the Midas touch, whereas for me, I have always had to do things one day at a time. It’s said that to attract luck, one needs hard work and preparation. I believe that luck is a luxury that we cannot afford to rely upon, but if she does shine upon us, it will be because we have stowed the anchor and are heading out to sea.
As a child, there was outside my home a “Ginnel” (Two walls about 2 feet apart and three feet high), which created the boundary between my home and that of my neighbours. The older children would leap from one side to the other with ease, but when I stood atop the wall, my legs would freeze and a wave of fear would grip me. “What if I fell, or slipped, or didn't make it, I would surely break a leg or arm or some other disaster would beset me.
The older children would “egg me on” and call me names, whilst my mother would shout at us all for being so stupid. “Get down of that Ginnel” “Get yourselves off home” “You’ll break your legs”.
At age five, that ginnel, was as wide as the Suez Canal and as deep as the Grand Canyon. It was life and death to all that were swallowed up by it. Each day after school I would clamber onto the wall on my side of the boundary and stand in awe of the task ahead. It wasn’t so much the bit in between, but the landing on the other-side. My mind wasn’t able to picture a safe landing, only a disastrous transition, from one side to the other.
Etched on my memory is the day my father came home from the pit (coalmine). His face riddled with a day’s labour and the telltale signs of coal dust driven into his eyes and skin. I saw him coming down the street, which was our key to get off the wall and occupy ourselves in a less dangerous pursuit. All was fine until the other boys starting teasing me about my inability to “jump the waLl”. Dad never said a word.
After we had eaten, dad called me outside to the ginnel where he lifted me up onto our side of the wall and stood between them. My mother dutifully appeared and began her warnings of pending doom, but dad just looked at me and said jump. I of course began shaking and imagining all sorts of horror, and then came those empowering words. “Just meet me halfway”.
I made that jump. No disaster befell me, and I went on to make that jump a dozen times or more the same night.
It’s hard to imagine the level of fear and consternation that Ginnel held for me as a child. Nearl fifty years on, I re-visited the Ginnel and was able to step up and onto “my side” of that wall without any effort. I took it literally in my stride and could straddle both walls with a simple parting of my legs. It was amusingly ironic, that as I was reliving the events of my childhood, the house owner appeared in his window and began hollering at me, “Get off that ***** wall”, “Are your thick”, “You stupid old fool, you’ll break a ****** leg”. Something’s just don’t change.
Life is all about “meeting me half way”.
I have a strong faith in God, and like to believe that my natural dad was teaching me a principle of life and faith. Life has a way of beating us up and giving us the test before we have studied the lesson. Faith has a way of “meeting us in the middle”. It’s about leaving the safety of the harbour and heading into high seas. The ship was never meant for dry land, the harbor is a means to provide shelter and preparation prior to setting sail.
“Meet me halfway”