By Sr Tessy Jacob, SSpS
Jharsuguda, March 21, 2019: Last night when I went to the dining room to fill a bottle of water, I heard some noise in the basin for washing dishes. The basin’s drain was blocked with a stopper to collect water from a leaky tap.
A lizard had fallen in it and it was trying to save itself from drowning. I stood for a while a bit scared. To save the creature was easy, just lift the stopper and the water would drain off in seconds. But to lift the stopper, I had to wet my hand.
I thought of an alternative — got a long knife and started to pull out the stopper. It didn’t work. Two minutes of my work went in vain. Another idea struck me. I ran to the kitchen again and got a pair of tongs and returned in half a minute. To my utter disgust and distress, I saw the lizard floating! I couldn’t believe it. I was so sure the creature would hold on until I got ready with the rescue instruments.
But it was too late. With tongs, I easily lifted the stopper and the water drained down; but my service was futile.
The incident made me think seriously about life, especially in this season of lent.
If I had risked a bit and put my hand into water and removed the stopper the creature would have survived. But I was too concerned about wetting my hands. I had any excuses for not wetting my hand –‘ the water would be poisonous because a lizard has fallen in it’, ‘ the creature might rush and bit me if I tried helping it’ also ‘ what is there, it is only a creature, and it knows how to escape a danger’!
In life too we miss many opportunities to save someone’s life. We see them struggling with personal issues, financial problem, career-related issues and many others.
A struggle is a struggle. Sometimes we are so close to their problems, it is so evident for us, yet we do not want to stretch our hand to save them. Instead of running for a long stick or tong, all we have to do is to dip our hands and save him/her. Fear of contamination or counter attack could be there, but that too has a solution.
We realize that we had wasted the precious moments to save lives only when it is very late. We may condemn the person for courting danger. Or, we may stand as a passive onlooker believing the person’s innate capacity to solve his problem. We may not know how close to death the person is. It may look like a game for a while. And by the time we reach out it would be too late. I could not believe that a strong healthy looking lizard died seconds before I got a new idea to save it.
Somewhere in our system we have fed the wrong notion to avoid reaching out to the other. A little wetting of the hand is always good if it can save someone. Never underestimate or take for granted someone’s struggle, especially when you know it.
Perhaps God has brought you into that person’s life by chance. It is then an obligation for us to save her/him, whatever the consequence. Had I risked a bit, I could have added another stroke of blessing in my life.