It had been hot enough to cook an egg on the asphalt that day. Inside the office, the air conditioner was struggling to cope. I wasn’t doing much better.
It was late afternoon. Everybody else had knocked off except me. It was always me. The responsible one. The one who wouldn’t let anyone down. The Goody-Two-Shoes who would go the extra mile. But a localized summer storm was brewing. I was near breaking point.
Yanking open the metallic drawer of the filing cabinet at last, I shoved into place the tattered manilla folder. An exhausted moan escaped my lips, intended for my colleagues’ ears. Of course, my appeal for sympathy was wasted. They were down the road sipping cool drinks. Why was I always the one to stay back?
I wiped my sweaty forehead with the back of my arm and got a good whiff of my own sweaty armpit as I did so. Looking up to the dirty white ceiling, I groaned a prayer. “Why, God, is it always me that has to do everything?”
Where did that breeze come from? Upstairs?
Heading to the top floor with its rows upon rows of boxes of files, I was surprised to see something new. A circular metal stand surrounding what looked like a fireman’s pole stood there. The stand was made of sparkling grated steel with a latched gate in the wire safety railing. An open trapdoor in the ceiling was letting the air through. Curiosity got the better of me, and even in my cranky self-centred state of mind, I lifted up the latch and stepped onto the platform, fastening the gate firmly behind me.
My knees went weak … what had happened? The stand around the fireman’s pole was being pushed up the pole as if by a hydraulic lift. Through the open trap door in the ceiling I went and out into the hot afternoon sunshine.
I threw my hands in the air. Why me? Why do these things always happen to the conscientious one? I stay back at work to do what needs to be done, and what happens? I find myself stuck in some stupid piece of building apparatus.
That’s what I thought for a brief second, anyhow. Then reality hit and I dropped to the grated metal floor of the stand, body totally below the wire enclosure, clinging on with white knuckles.
Higher and higher I went. It was quite fascinating really. Soon I had a clear view of our street block. Some people lazily wandered down the street, while others hurried about like the world depended on them. Those poor men in business suits must have been stifling hot. There was a riverside café and indeed, there were several of my colleagues sitting under the umbrellas sipping iced drinks.
Higher and higher I went. The people looked like ants now, making their way about their business. The bigger roads looked like ribbons of black, and the cars which puttered along them may well have from a child’s toybox. The town looked like something from a picture book. ‘Spot the crane.’ ‘Can you see five red cars?’ ‘How many churches can you see?’ ‘Where is the sports ground?’
Beyond the edge of town, the land was divided into coloured patches. Thousands of heads of sunflowers merged into a solid yellow quadrangle. Shining fields of grains contributed to this work of art. Paddocks of sheep looked like sheets of dusty green flecked with white. A river snaked through the scene, flanked by trees. Farm houses dotted the landscape. In the middle of this patchwork quilt was that grey mass of humanity, the town.
I shivered. It was cold so high up. I seemed to have stopped rising, but gazed further into the infinite nothingness above.
“Good God, this is how you see the world, isn’t it? How high up will you take me? Will I see continents and weather patterns?”
In my heart, I felt rather than heard the loving murmur of my Father. “Dear child, you can’t handle the complete view that I enjoy. I love you. But know this. My creation is bigger than you. I care about all that has life down there. You are just one part.”
Life. It isn’t all about me.
I want to make a difference in my world. With God’s help, I will. But when I get back to terra firma, it will be with a different perspective.
The world doesn’t depend on me. It never has.
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