"Time to mow." The prisoner's voice was fragile, like thin glass, as he walked with slow, deliberate steps. With muscles tense and fists clenched, his head darted from side to side; checking every imagined movement and sound.
Fear! His whole demeanor shouted it out.
"Here! It may need fuel." The guard pushed the lawn mower and petrol can at Bubbles, slammed the gate shut and turned the key.
Hesitating, suddenly unsure and slightly dazed, he lifted the can to his ear and shook it. His eyes slowly moved between can and mower, back and forth. His stressed, fearful manner collapsed into sagged defeat.
"Get on with it! The grass won't mow itself." The guard rattled the barred gate to shake Bubbles into action.
He pushed the mower onto the small lawn, turned and fixed his eyes squarely on the guard. He slowly unscrewed the lid of the fuel can and dropped it to the ground. He lifted the container of dangerous liquid above his head and poured. The fuel ran over his hair, down his body and pooled at his feet.
He sneered at the guard, tossed the empty can to one side and took a cigarette lighter out of his pocket. In a blazing flash and with a blood curdling scream, Bubbles chose to leave the fear and torment of prison life behind.
It's been nineteen years since the violent suicide of Bubbles. But when I think of him, I like to bring balance into my life by remembering another event.
It was a hot day as folk laughed; enjoying their afternoon. I put the basket to one side and spread the blanket under the shade of a nearby tree.
My ears filled with the sounds of kids running and playing in the small creek; parents calling out to them and the giggling response as they called back. It was simply too inviting. The food and cups of tea would have to wait.
The water's edge was crowded with water flying everywhere and no one was going to avoid getting splashed. Wanting to cool down and relax after my busy morning, I headed off to one side for a quite soak. As I waded through some reeds my thoughts of tranquil relaxation were suddenly and dramatically invaded. The inert body of a young girl, trapped underwater by the reeds, sprang to the surface and collided with my knees.
I quickly grabbed the little girl. Smashing the reeds to pieces, shattering the creek's surface, I tore for the shore. I laid her on the grass, turned her onto her side and started to go through the process of C.P.R. (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation).
I tried to ignore the screams and panic around me and focused on the child whose life was hanging by a thread.
"Somebody call an ambulance," That registered as a good thing.
"She's dead!" someone else screamed.
"Oh my God! It's little Kathy. Quick, go and get Auntie Jan!"
Little Kathy suddenly convulsed and spewed a lungful of creek water that flew out of her mouth and splattered onto the ground. I breathed a sigh of relief as her breath joined mine in the celebration of victory over death.
When I think of these two events in my life, I am strongly reminded that our time on this earth is just a splash in the gigantic pool of forever.
As it did for Bubbles, it can end as a tragic, violent response to despair and torment. For Kathy it was different; death called but was delayed until a later date.
We all have an appointment with death. But we do not have to step from life to death.
I will step from life into even greater life; I will live on in the presence of an awesome God. I know this is truth and I can guarantee it for anyone who accepts Jesus as their Lord and Saviour; because Jesus is the Master of C.P.R. (Christ Provides Resurrection).
Death for me will not be delayed; it will be cheated and completely annulled.
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